Act on those Client Complaints

Leisa_gill135 Ignore client complaints at your peril, say Sally Glick, CMO of Sobel & Co and Leisa Gill, director of marketing for Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, in the March issue of the Ioma Partner's Report.  They identified the four worst complaints:

  1. "I can't get them to call me back (or return my e-mails)."
  2. "They wait until the last minute to deliver reports"
  3. "The service level is less than acceptable."
  4. "They do not understand my business needs."

Even if the complaint is baseless, "you don't want them telling their story about you on the street," Gill said.

Sally_glick135 The solution is "romancing" the client, according to Glick. "Romancing the client is a never-ending job.  It includes paying attention, really listening and maintaining communications--all things that go along with any other successful life relationship."

Glick says her firm has a rule requiring that any client call or email be answered within four hours, and that clients be told how they can reach you.

Clients are always judging you by missed deadlines, Gill said. "We try to map out a date of delivery and follow the receipt of the data from the client so we can tack it and remind the client if information is missing," she said.

If there is a problem with service, solve it with finesse, Gill advised. Fee disputes don't improve over time, so handle these immediately.   Sometimes clients don't speak up, so it's important for partners to visit clients.

Finally, stay informed about each client's business or industry. It helps if you can be the one to bring a development in the industry to the client's attention.

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Chuck Newton - April 4, 2007 9:59 AM
I would not go that far. But, that is what Lisa Gill says you need to do in Larry Bodine's post, Acting On Those Client Complaints. Based upon the Ioma Partner's Report the four most common complaints of clients are:I can't get them to call me back (or...
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Patrick Hillman - April 4, 2007 10:10 AM

Couple things pop into my mind:

First, many of those complaints can be nipped in the bud by setting up the firm/client relationship properly. People can set service expectations at the beginning to avoid such complaints. For example, inform clients at the outset that "I normally return calls within a day." -- and then live up to that.

Four hours seems to me like you're setting yourself up for disaster, and/or will have to make excuses at some point.

On a related note, these problems also creep up when the administrative staff are poorly trained. The worst thing a secretary should tell a client is that the lawyer is "out" or "away" or some other vague description. If a lawyer is not available, the admin should tell the client that he or she is "in a meeting with a client."

People are needy, for sure. But, they're generally very understanding when they think their contact is serving another client (as opposed to anything else that is not client service such as some less-important internal meeting or something).

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