As the executor of my mother’s estate and the oldest of three siblings, I went to an attorney’s office to look for advice and help on how to handle my elderly mother’s future care and financial needs. It was a meeting I had long anticipated and worried about since the outcome would determine many delayed decisions. I arrived at the attorney’s office a few minutes early and was told to take a seat in the waiting room. Most of the magazines on the coffee table were last year’s issues. Thirty minutes after my scheduled appointment, I was summoned into the attorney’s office. He cursorily reviewed my folder and acted as if it was the first time he had seen it. I asked a few questions, but felt he should be the one asking the questions to guide me to what would be the best approach for her. He got frustrated when I asked for more clarification on some of his legalese terms. I left his office more confused than ever and on top of it was given a bill that said all payments must be paid upon services rendered. What services?!

A truly customer-focused organization sees things through the “lens of the customer” not the “lens of the organization”. It will be a key factor in retaining customers that will separate you from your competition. Everyone wants to feel special and unique. No one likes to feel like just another transaction, no one likes to feel like cattle being herded through a line. And yet how many times in a day do we hear things like:
“First, I need you to fill out the paperwork”
“This isn’t my department, I’m just taking over while someone is on break”
“The computer won’t let me in”
“Have a seat, someone will be with you”

Looking through the lens of the customer, means that if you understand the customer’s emotions, then you’ll be able to understand the customer’s needs more fully. Customer emotions are key to delivering personalized service. Making the emotional connection will make your customer feel appreciated and comfortable and that’s what will drive referrals and repeat business.

In today’s world, there are too many choices for legal advice and so how do most customers choose who and where to go? They ask their friends, family or colleagues. Those who felt they were listened to and cared about, as well as being competently handled, will be the winners of the referral. I know of individuals who went to the most qualified lawyers in terms of degrees, certifications, education, etc. but because they made the experience so unpleasant to do business with them, they were never referred to again. In the past, it was said one unhappy customer would tell nine or ten people, today with the internet, blogging, twittering, that number can be in the thousands.

You can’t afford to not look through the lens of your customer. Put on your client’s shoes and take a walk through of your physical environment, your processes and procedures, your service delivery and see if it is just mediocre or does it create a Wow, positive feeling? The customer experience must be carefully planned and managed to ensure the best possible experience every time. Some things to consider:
Does your office, website, collateral materials send the message you wish them to send?
Is your phone system welcoming and inviting? What does the paperwork and billing processes make the client feel? Lost, confused, frustrated?
Analyze how you address your clients, do you first acknowledge their emotions or do you immediately jump to resolving the need?

It doesn’t take but a moment, but it makes a world of difference. Imagine if the attorney in the opening scenario had come into the office and asked the client to tell him about her mother and listened empathetically, asked appropriate questions, actively listened and THEN got down to business? I cannot doubt there would have been a different outcome to this scenario.

While you may not be an attorney, but are in some other kind of business; ask yourself the same questions as the above. Would your customers walk out the door frustrated or would they be looking for someone to tell how much you seemed to care and then highly recommend you?

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