As attorneys, we are required to take continuing legal education classes (CLE), 30 hours every two years. The other day I was listening to a webinar and the topic was customer service.
It’s a topic I write about a lot because I get so frustrated by work comp firms in Illinois that don’t deliver customer service. They don’t return phone calls, don’t answer questions, don’t treat the clients with respect, they lie, etc. It works out OK for me because we take over many of these cases, it sucks for the client and makes the legal profession look bad.
While the CLE was talking about billing, which I don’t do because there is no cost with our firm until the case is over, the presenter talked about why clients become unhappy. One of the top reasons was the service the attorney provided.
A great point was made that is obvious, but blows away any attorney who says that they are too busy to respond to a client. With texting and e-mails, even if I’m on trial or vacation or otherwise busy, an attorney no longer has an excuse for not getting back to you.
While a phone call might take 30 minutes or more and a meeting might take an hour, texting or e-mailing takes a few seconds to a couple of minutes at most. So if you get a phone call from a client and can’t return it or don’t want to return it, you can still deliver some level of service very easily.
In fact, it’s so easy to communicate with clients that I’m shocked how many law firms have trouble with this. There is one Chicago work injury lawyer who advertises a ton and seems to have more trouble with this than anyone. How hard can it be to e-mail something like “Got your message, sorry I couldn’t get back to you by phone. The next status date is the 20th. We are waiting on medical records from Dr. Jones and once I get those in I will call you to discuss settlement strategy. Let me know if there’s anything else you want to talk about.”
That took me about 45 seconds to type. While I’m a phone call guy usually, if I take the train home I could send out about 30 e-mails like that before I got home if needed. I could do it while working out. I could do it while watching TV or while laying in bed. It’s really not hard.
Bottom line is that there is NO EXCUSE, short of a death or major illness, for not getting back to your clients. It’s lame and you don’t have to take it.
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