There’s no Jack Bauer here. This is about you, your bank account, and whether or not the disciplinary board will insist you wear striped pajamas and eat only bread and water for a year or two.
You have 24 hours – and only 24 hours – to respond. And, if you don’t, malpractice suits; disciplinary board complaints; anger; resentment; grumblings to advisors; and growling to friends, neighbors, and the people in the supermarket check out lane are the immediate consequence.
What’s the Number 1 Disciplinary Board Complaint Against Lawyers?
Lack of communication. Lack of communication is the number one reason clients file complaints against their lawyers: Lawyers don’t call their clients back.
Are you kidding me?! What’s wrong with you?
Your client’s matter is likely routine to you, but, to them; it’s highly stressful and on the forefront of their minds 24/7. When you don’t return a phone call or answer an email, they feel disrespected, angry, and unheard. And, that’s what they’re going to tell everyone else. They may not remember what you say or didn’t say, but they will remember how you made them feel – forever.
A Simple 5-Step Communications Process to Avoid Growling and Complaints
- Set a communications response policy. (For example, “We will return your call within 24 hours or the next business day” or “I return phone calls between 4pm and 5pm each business day.”)
- Place that policy on your website, in your new client package, and in your engagement agreement.
- Verbally confirm that policy on a regular basis when speaking with clients. Have your team do the same.
- Have an internal policy to return communications even faster. If you can’t do it, a team member can. Your team member may be able to address the inquiry. If not, he can tell the client when you will respond.
- Follow your own policy.
Happy Clients Tell People
When I was an associate attorney, I had clients call my (very ornery) boss to tell him they loved me – simply because I returned their phone calls promptly – it was the only positive thing that boss communicated to me – ever. If those happy clients made an effort to call my boss and he made an effort to say something positive, it was a very BIG deal.
Your Happy Client Mission
Happy clients tell people you rock. Unhappy people tell everyone that you’re a rat. You have 24 hours to get your new communication policy in place. I’m calling you tomorrow.
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