Raising the bar for lawyers and customer service

1-888-I-Can-SueDo you think lawyers conduct surveys about customer satisfaction? Actually, most attorneys I have spoken with in the last few days maintain that client relationships don’t fall under the topic of customer service. They told me if their client has a problem with them, the client will tell them. Now we all know that’s not true; customers and clients are more likely to move on to another attorney because there’s always someone else trying to pull their client into another office.

Yesterday I accompanied a buyer of a relatively inexpensive home here in Palm Beach Gardens to an attorney’s office about her new contract of sale. In Florida real estate closings are commonly done by title companies, but in this particular case, the buyer chose to use an attorney for her closing because of some potentially conflicting issues she wanted to avoid in the future. The moment we walked into the office, the receptionist stood up, greeted us with a friendly smile, and referred to the buyer by name. (The buyer had never been there before.) We were ushered into a conference room and offered water and soft drinks. The room was impeccably decorated with family photographs and community awards reflecting the generosity and good-will of the law firm. The attorney entered the room on time, introduced himself, went over the contract, explained the contingencies, and answered the client’s questions clearly and concisely.

It was a great experience, and this attorney’s office met the client’s expectations. That kind of service didn’t arbitrarily just happen. Some lawyers think that their long-term clients will have an undying loyalty, but loyalty isn’t what it used to be. This client had a previous attorney for 20 years, but left that firm because he never returned phone calls and made her wait in the reception area well over an hour; bottom line clients need to be the most important priority.

Let’s put it another way; if 80 to 90% of revenue comes from existing clients in a law firm, how does a law office differentiate exceptional service to keep their clients? Since most of us realize bad service is everywhere, exceptional service is the golden ring of opportunity to bring in new business. No matter where we go, we go for the experience. Why else would anyone travel to Las Vegas? Most people lose, but if you ask someone why they go, they will tell you they went for the experience. The same concept holds at Disney here in Orlando. Customers are called “guests,” employees are “cast members,” and each work day is a “show.” We’re there for the experience. Is it any different what was presented to the buyer and me yesterday? Not at all since our experience was worth an “A” rating.

Lawyers need to anticipate, learn and invest in their client relationships. Lawyers need to be available and prove they care. Deliver great value and show clients they are more than just billable hours.

photo credit: emilydickinsonridesabmx