Have You Thought About Your Firm’s “Experience” Lately?

Recently I found myself in a very unusual situation.  I found myself as the patient and potentially the client in a medical malpractice law suit.  So, in order to make a very long story short, suffice it to say, my perspective and my life have been VERY different for the past month.  It has been very much like some of the scenes from the movie, “The Doctor”, with William Hurt, a sleeper that came out in the early 90’s where Hurt was forced, after being nothing short of a curmudgeon to his patients, colleagues, staff and family to turn over a new leaf.  Now I hope I cannot liken myself to Hurt’s pre-incident character, in most any way at all, but it is in his awakening that I hope to give you all the perspective and gift that I have gained.

I have basically been left with limited to no use of my right arm.  I can type (couldn’t at first and it is still very difficult and slow-going with many errors).  I can’t lift or bare any weight on it at all.  It is numb to the touch from the elbow up to my shoulder, and there is some pain (I love it when doctors ask you to quantify pain on a scale of 1-10, and you’re not sure how to on account of the physical, mental, emotional and possible long term pain, not to mention what pain I know my husband and family are feeling.).  So, this leads me to the client experience that I’ve had over the last month as a patient in my neurologist’s office. As I describe my own client experience, consider how it could translate into the client experience that you offer in your law firm.

First, the neurologist office always calls me at least one, if not two, days prior to my appointment using an automated service to remind me of my appointment and to confirm, which I do by pressing #1 on my phone.  I’m always given instructions on that call to arrive 15 minutes early to check-in (regardless of how many times I’ve seen the doctor), which appropriate documents to bring, if there is testing involved, what special instructions to follow along with that, etc. and lastly where they are located and how to get the necessary directions. This all happens before I even darken their door for the 1st or 100th time.

Now I arrive and find my way to the initial check-in with ease. I review my insurance info, explain why I’m there, which physician I’m seeing and why, share any new concerns, etc. and all the while the staff member is listening, typing and genuinely appearing concerned and pleasant.  I am then given my check-in slip and ushered off to the next nice area – the general waiting room for your specific physician. Not all of the patients wait together, the elderly have a separate waiting room from children (really cuts down on germ contact and confusion, I now understand from asking, plus it makes patients feel better and more intimate). This is where you wait to see your doctor along with other patients who are scheduled to see either your doctor or one of the 2-3 other doctors assigned to that specific waiting area. Magazines are available to read that might appeal to the patient or care giver demographic in each particular waiting area.

Next, I see my physician, have my examination, and receive my “marching orders” for possibly more testing etc., often including blood work or imaging.  The physician either shakes hands or hugs depending upon our relationship and then I’m sent to “check-out”. Here, once again the positive client experience continues. If blood work is required, the lab is on site and the blood work is done immediately.  If an imaging order is required, they schedule it as soon as possible; keeping in mind my “hour drive, one arm, and still crazy-busy work schedule” and move heaven and earth to get me in at their “on site” – next door MRI, CT and PET scan facility. I will walk over and the client experience will continue, only after I’ve scheduled my follow-up for 2 weeks later for the next wonderful experience.  Of course, knowing that if there are any changes, confusion, problems or glitches “they will have it” and you won’t have to worry or stress.

All of this takes place in a well decorated, but not over the top or sterile office environment.  Each professionally dressed person I come in contact with expresses genuine concern and does not re-ask 6,000,000 times the same questions about what happened, what meds I’m taking, or who my other doctors are, because they have it all right in front of them on their computers and are using them (as they are trained to do).  They may even engage in conversation about reasonable “personal matters” (vacations on the horizon or just past, family events, etc.), either because I elected to share at that particular time, because the tools they have allow them to remember, or just because that’s who they are and they can.  They all appear to get along with each other and the doctors – AMAZING. And they appear to be happy where they work.  I don’t see a ton of new faces from visit to visit or probably from year to year… wonder why?  And, they listen when I mention the one time I called with a question and was placed on hold for 1 hour, in their “what seemed new to me phone system”, and never got through or a call back.  And, they (staff and doctor) didn’t blame me, but in fact commiserated with me and said they weren’t fans of it either and would definitely pass along my feedback.

If you’ll allow me to liken this neurologist office to a casino then, this experience was evidence to me that the “back of the house” ran smoothly which allowed the “front of the house” to run smoothly, as well.  If this office were a casino, then it’d be the premier Las Vegas Wynn! So, does your “casino” sound like the Wynn or more like the Golden Nugget?  Do you provide the client experience that I described above? Is your office overall very client-centric, very efficient, maximizing the use of your tools and processes and procedures behind the scenes (in the “back of the house”) so that the front of the house is also running like a well-oiled machine? Your client experience should make your “guests” feel like “you’ve got this” and in fact that “you’ve got anything they throw your direction” and will get them the results they need, deserve and can walk away satisfied with.  Are your clients having the “INSERT YOUR FIRM’S NAME HERE” experience?  Have you created the ”INSERT YOUR FIRM’S NAME HERE” way? It is never too late to create this experience and it is the only way you will differentiate yourself in today’s legal market.