Do you know how your clients would rate you?
During today's clip, Ed will share some indicators that might help you gauge the rapport between you and your clients.
Verizon - Redux: The power of blogging is apparent when Verizon calls me the day after my original post in this column about their service, or lack thereof, to ask how they can address the problems I raised. I glad to say that the issues I raised have been resolved. The process, however, is fascinating to me.
The day after my post, I attended a conference conducted by my own business coach, Alan Weiss. While there, coincidentally, Verizon Fios was conducting a sales training program. I talked to one of the folks running the program, who then introduced me to a district manager. He knows the store manager where my incident occurred and said he would contact him. (I have still not heard from him.) Also, during the day, another higher up attempted to reach me by phone. On my return later in the day, I returned the call ... and we finally connected.
The billing issue that arose after my purchases was resolved to my satisfaction, and I learned more about Verizon. One,I was told they outsource their collection issues rather than first seeking to resolve any questions internally. To my way of thinking, this is a mistake because most billing issues result from the actions of the creditor. And, in the case of lawyers, unresolved billing issues could result in a malpractice action. Wouldn't it be better to address the billing issue, resolve it and retain the goodwill of the client, not to mention the client's future business? Verizon, being in an oligarchic position, apparently, doesn't understand the nuance. Of course, collection is not their strength; sales and service is. But, I would think that better collection techniques could enhance rather than destroy customer goodwill.
Second, I learned that neither he store level nor the first contact person can resolve these issues. They have to be pushed "upstairs." In this case, it was another district manager who had the authority. One of the lessons learned from Ritz Carlton Hotels (now a division of Marriott) is that all front line personnel have the authority to spend up to $2,500 to satisfy customer complaints. SAS, the airline, after their bankruptcy, pushed all decision-making authority down to the lowest level. This process made sure that customer issues are resolved as quickly as possible; that the sour taste of complaints does not remain with the customer longer than need be; and that senior folks are focusing on what they are hired to do ... not to settle what usually amounts to "small" issues.
In the case of lawyers, value is in the eye of the beholder, the client. Lawyers can/should adjust bills in order to match value as seen by the client. Most billing issues, in my opinion, are set up by the lawyer in the first intake session. A full discussion not only of the matter, but also the fee to be charged for the matter, will likely avoid most billing problems ... and assure the lawyer is paid on time and in full.
Next, I learned that Verizon is experimenting in our geographic area (Southern California) with requiring appointments so that customers can better plan their time and be served without interruption. I commend the company for seeking to offer better service. I believe (this is unsolicited feedback) that a combination approach would work better .... that is, make appointments and serve "walk-ins" if / when their representatives are available. It is difficult to manage any large company. Verizon certainly is in this category. But, then, so is Apple and Apple, among others seems to be able to address appointments as well as walk-ins.
Bottom line, I'm pleased with my purchases from Verizon, which included the new iPad and Motorola Razr Maxx, and I'm pleased with finally dealing with the other issues that arose. It was unfortunate that Verizon could not have handled our issues more effectively, with less turmoil, in order to retain that sweet smell of consumer purchase euphoria.
The real reason that clients refer their law firms is because they are satisfied with the service they receive. Good client service is responsible for about 46+% of all referrals.
We're in Canyonville, OR, at the Seven Feathers RV Park. This is the best RV park I've ever seen ... and they claim to be among the top 4 in the country. What a way to end the day.
We were staying in Yreka, CA, using that as a base to commute to Ashland, OR for the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Got to see two great plays, She Loves Me and Twelfth Night. Then, today, my wife said her patience will permit us to stay in one spot only for 3 days. So, we got up and left Yreka.
En route, we developed a flat tire in the trailer. Had to call Good Sam to bail us out. They were great, get us help within the hour. The RV park my wife selected not only is one of the best, but also has a truck and tire facility adjacent to it ... the only one open today, July 4th! What a coincidence. They looked at our tire; they believe it was the stem, not the tire ... and took care of it. They will even come to the RV Park tomorrow to check it again, making sure the tire pressure holds, before we embark on our next phase of the trip.
That is service! That is caring for the customer ... What have you done with your clients lately to compel them to say such things about you? His name and number will go in my book ... and should I ever need someone of his skill set anywhere in the State of Oregon, he's the first one I'll call. Will your clients and former clients call you before they call anyone else? Will they call you on behalf of their friends and colleagues before they call anyone else? If not, why not? Look inward to address your operations and client management challenges before you look outward ... Why waste your money on marketing if you can't satisfy your clients once they arrive?