This is never truer than when we think about being tactful. Often times a little tact goes a long way. Being raised in the South, tact is, or should be our middle names! Sayings like, “bless her heart” are often heard following what can be thought of as critical remarks or constructive criticism.
Comedian, Steve Martin once said, “Some people have a way with words and some not have way.” When we think about the interaction between our front line staff members and our clients, do this staff members communicate and demonstrate their understandings of the client’s concerns (and then ultimately the way the team member handles that client’s issues) in a manner that is tactful and doesn’t offend that client?
Do client experience issues, which should be handled in a calm and routine manner, escalate to a higher level than necessary? Do your staff members have the emotional, contextual and situational awareness and understanding to be sensitive to the client’s needs and feelings?
I can promise that a formal survey y of most attorneys and firm administrators wouldn’t be necessary to know if your clients are being provided with the client “experience” that meets or exceeds your expectations. So why do most law firms have staff members in roles who lack the tact to work with clients on a day to day basis? The explanation is that some people are wired to be more blunt and direct. Those people may lack the social skills or listening skills to pick up on what is most important to the client. They themselves may be more think skinned, therefore they may not be as sensitive to others feelings.
Another explanation might be that firm administrators or managing partners who do the hiring may not always gather enough or the right information during the interview process to understand a staff member’s ability to be tactful. Once the person is hired, it is easy to see that they have a problem, and by then it can be too late.
In order to ensure that the new hires have just the right amount of tact and at the same time can be confident and decisive so as to effectively meet and exceed the client’s expectations; those in the hiring positions should assess the prospective and existing staff members. By understanding the staff member’s tact level in relation to the ideal amount required for their role/job, it will allow there to be confidence in the overall client experience of the firm. Tact serves as the underlying foundation for a firm by providing exceptional client service.
Firms that value and focus on client loyalty must understand how they serve their clients and whether the level of service being provided is consistent for every client all of the time. This requires a much deeper understanding of all of the staff members and attorneys who must interact with delivering service to the clients as well as the firm administrators and managing partners who must encourage and develop those people to do their very best every day and all of the time.
Remember it is cheaper to keep existing clients than to go out and get new ones! A satisfied client doesn’t guarantee a return client, but a loyal client can be your biggest brand and firm advocate!