The defendant infectious disease doctor testified in his deposition that he had a cocaine issue. He turned himself in for treatment when his pusher was arrested.
Not realizing the doctor’s history, one of my plaintiff attorney clients was about to hire this physician as an infectious disease expert witness. My client mentioned to me in passing that he was going to hire this doctor. Should I or could I tell him about the doctor without violating confidentiality? I was stuck in an ethical issue of “I learned this information by reading the depositions. Was I free to warn my client?”
I called up the attorney who was on the plaintiff side on the previous case involving this doctor and said, “Am I going to violate any ethical issues if I warn my client?” The attorney said, “Oh no, his drug use was in all the local newspapers. It’s not confidential information.”
Next, I called up my client and said. “I want to warn you about this doctor.” My client was sitting in his driveway about ready to take the records over to the infectious disease doctor’s office when I intercepted him. He was so profoundly grateful. It turned out the defense firm in his case was the same defense firm involved in this first case. The defense attorneys would have known this doctor’s background.
My actions saved my client a huge embarrassing problem because he was forewarned. He gave me cases for years after that and continued to recall what happened and how I saved him from a situation that could have been really awful. This was very effective in strengthening client relationships.
Treat each customer as if you are about to lose him or her. If you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will.
Be Personable: A Key to Strengthening Your Client Relationships
Reveal yourself as the person behind your company name. Use your name and your photo on all promotional materials. Have you ever gone to a website of a legal nurse consultant to find out more about the person? Have you ever found a site that does not list the name of the LNC or provide a picture? Doesn’t the site feel impersonal?
Being personable counts. I had a secretary who was extremely pleasant on the phone. Our business greatly benefited because she laughed easily; she joked; she kidded with people. I got so many compliments on what a wonderful assistant she was. After she left, I hired a woman who was reserved and depressed. All of the compliments stopped. She made a big difference in my business.
The suggestion to smile when you answer the phone goes a long way to making you sound friendlier.
Strengthening your client relationships is helped by becoming friendly with the attorney’s staff. Write down their names in your database. Note specific details about them and bring them up in subsequent conversations. Use his or her name so that you can develop a relationship with that receptionist or that gatekeeper.
In my LNC business, I had a practice which originated from a comment of a client who said he always worried until he knew the LNC received medical records. I developed a practice of sending a faxed acknowledgment to the law firm to let them know the material had come in. When I had a change in staff, a few cases came in which we didn’t acknowledge that we had received them. Win both instances, we got two phone calls for law firms, saying “I know that you usually tell us when the case has come in. Did it arrive?” It made me realize that we had trained our customers to expect a certain service or touch point and when it was missing, they noticed it.
Look for ways you can be helpful to your clients.
Send them information that might interest them about their cases. Make them feel special. Think about how you feel when, conversely, someone makes you unimportant. There is a sign in a jewelry store in my town: “If you are grumpy and irritable, there will be a $10 charge added to your bill.” I perceive the sign is saying, “It’s your job to make us feel good when you come in our jewelry store,” as opposed to “It’s our job to make you happy and satisfied.” That sign makes me feel less important to them.
Read Dale Carnegie: How to Win Friends and Influence People. Your client should be your friend. Friends treat each other in a friendly manner. We have to trust each other and develop that partnership with our customers. Part of that is being friendly.
Sometimes you will make errors in your business. It is inevitable. Clients will be unhappy. The best way to preserve that relationship is an apology. When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and tell the client what you are doing to fix the issue so it will not recur.
Robert Schlemm and I discussed ways to gauge your clients’ satisfaction in our podcast, How do You Know You’re Satisfying Your Attorney Clients? Listen to it here.