I’m out of town this week (as I have been most of the last month) and decided this morning to order room service for breakfast. I ordered scrambled eggs and rye toast. What I got was scrambled eggs (but no salt and pepper) and wheat toast. Mildly annoying, right? I noticed the error, of course, and I’ll remember if I order room service at this hotel again. I may even remember if in the future I’m deciding whether to stay here again — though probably not the incident, only the lingering feeling that things weren’t quite right here. But it’s just mildly annoying; I didn’t call room service to complain, I didn’t ask them to fix the error, and I’m certainly not going to pack my bag and check out because of this. Wondering what this has to do with your clients?
Most of us assume that our clients are satisfied with our service unless they complain. But, as my story indicates, that may not be the case. A small error can often be corrected without much effort, but uncorrected it can grow into a negative perception (can’t these people do anything right?) that can endanger the relationship — and perhaps the lawyer would have no idea until matters had gone too far.
The simple fix? Ask your clients how things are going. Are they pleased? Is there anything they’d like to run differently? Perhaps they do/don’t want to be copied on correspondence, internal memoranda, etc. Perhaps they do/don’t want to be notified by telephone when something of minor importance happens. Perhaps they do/don’t want to meet with you face-to-face on a regular basis just to review what’s happening. Guessing is not helpful, but asking is. And consider how to pose your questions to encourage honest response. In other words, “What could we do to work with you more effectively?” might lead to more useful responses than, “Are you happy with the work we’re doing?”�