Last year Apple earned $18 billion in in net profit on sales of $74.6 billion, breaking even its own predictions.    Most of us would agree that Apple makes a superior product compared to those of its competitors, but customer loyalty, which comes directly from its customer service, is what really sets it apart from the rest and drives its successful sales.  Apple’s secret to improving customer service is EMPATHY.

Your Client’s Not a Case File. They’re a Person Who Needs Your Help.

Because so many of us use Apple products to document and record events in our lives, it is often easy for us to become “emotionally” attached to these products that we then call customer service about.  This is why, it says in Apple’s Genius Training Manual, in BOLD letters, to TREAT EVERY CUSTOMER INTERACTION WITH EMPATHY, NOT SYMPATHY.

Often when customer service gets a call, the representative must help a “grieving” customer.  They aren’t “mad” at the representative — they’re simply mad.  For example, a customer may call for help in retrieving photos from a deceased relative’s phone; or a parent’s pictures of their newborn may have suddenly disappeared.  Clearly, the key to good customer service in these instances is to have the representative put themselves in the customer’s shoes.

Are You Helping Your Client, or Are Bad Client Relations Making Them Feel Worse?

Understanding your client is better than feeling sorry for them.

Your clients are probably stressed-out to begin with, especially if your practice involves personal injury, family law, bankruptcy, or criminal defense. They’re relying on your firm to get through a very difficult time in their lives. You must handle them with the empathy and respect they deserve.

A client calls, frustrated that their attorney hasn’t returned their call, that the news they’ve just received wasn’t what they wanted to hear, that they had a bad report from the doctor’s office, and the list goes on.  How does your staff handle those calls?  Do they respond with SYMPATHY or EMPATHY?  How often do you help your staff really “put themselves in your client’s shoes”?  It is one thing to feel sorry for a client and their situation; it is another to attempt to understand how they feel and what they are going through.  How can your team respond to clients with empathy and improve the client’s experience?

Five Steps to Improve Your Client Experience

Here are suggestions on how your staff can better connect with clients, make them feel valued, and turn a negative experience to a positive one:

  1. Actively listen – Pay specific attention to what the client is saying. This will always improve their experience.  Focus on the details.  Perhaps the client is upset about something entirely different from what they started complaining about.
  2. Apologize – Even if it really isn’t your fault, make sure that you apologize to the client to show that you understand and hear why they are upset.  It is key to improving the client’s experience that they know you hear them and you’re on their side.  Hearing a heartfelt apology from you will go a long way toward that.
  3. Sincerely desire to help – When the client expresses that they have a problem/an issue or that they are upset, immediately offer them a solution.  Make sure that you do everything in your power to help.  Stop at nothing.  Make sure you see it to the end, to the resolution.  But, most importantly, be sincere about everything you do and say.  Although smiling is important upon greeting a client and can often diffuse an unpleasant situation, once it is clear that they are upset, continuing to smile is not the best option — in fact, it may make them even more upset.  In order to improve the client experience, consider their problem your problem.  Make sure you act like it and that you are sincere.
  4. Be polite –The upset client may be rude. That is not your cue to go to their level and be rude as well.  You must take the high road and be polite no matter what.  It is a vicious cycle if you elect to take the same path.  It will end in a much better result if you remain pleasant and focused on the client’s best interest.  If you remain calm, they probably will too. 
  5. Ask the client for input – It can often yield an even better client experience and result if you allow and even encourage the client to be a part of the solution. “How can we make this right?” might be a good question to ask. Most of the time clients are reasonable, especially if they are presented with a reasonable solution.  Usually when they see that you are truly empathetic, have gone above and beyond to do everything in your power to achieve a positive result, they’ll not only be ok with the result, they’ll actually be pleased with it and become loyal clients who will gladly make referrals to the firm.

The Keys are Empathy Toward Clients and Effective Problem Solving

A poorly handled mistake by your firm can anger a client. If it’s addressed professionally and quickly, the client may tell others what a great job you do.

You/your team has been empathetic (not sympathetic).  You will have empowered your team to do everything they possibly can to help the client reach a positive resolution.  And the overall client experience will have improved dramatically.

Apple wanted its employees to walk a mile in a customer’s shoes but not to feel sorry for them.  They wanted employees to recognize their customers’ feelings and emotions, then try to do everything in their power to make them feel better and get their problems resolved.  Their training manual calls it the “Three F’s – Feel, Felt, Found.”

Improving the client experience is/should be about showing your clients/potential clients that you and your team care.  If you are truly empathetic, it should be second nature.  Your clients/potential clients will know that you are empathetic and are sincere about it.  They will feel that you have tried everything to help resolve their issue favorably.  And they will be loyal clients forever, turning that loyalty into referrals over and over again.  To have the “sales success” that Apple did in your firm, you must improve your “client experience.”  Start with EMPATHY and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

We Can Help You Grow Your Law Firm with Proven Law Firm Marketing Strategies

Your legal expertise helps your clients. Our marketing and development expertise helps you promote your firm, inform others about it, and helps your law firm attract new clients. A critical part to maintaining current clients and attracting new ones is empathetic, effective customer service.

Put your firm on track to greater success by acting today. Call Lawyers Marketing Associates at (919) 637-9144 so we can discuss your firm’s needs and how we can help. It’s the first step to creating your custom strategic marketing plan that will grow your law firm.