Good Service

A friend was selling her house and located a neighborhood attorney. He quoted her a fee. She retained him. Once hired, he ignored her phone calls. So she called me. “I don’t understand,” my friend commented, “all I want is an answer to a few questions.” I replied that I did not know the fellow but offered to contact him. My friend insisted that I need not take time from my schedule.

She said, “I will try him one more time and ask his secretary to explain why he hasn’t returned my calls. I’ve been patient, but it’s been two weeks and I left three messages.” I hung up, reminding her once more that I was more than happy to reach out to the guy. Two weeks? Three calls? In my opinion, this treatment was just wrong, especially given my personal obsession with customer service for my immigration clients.

The following week, I heard from my friend. “Well, he finally got back to me.”
“And?” I inquired, “did he tell you what you needed to know?”
“Not exactly,” she answered. “He was quite upset. He said that all of my calls were a waste of his time and that I’m lucky that he doesn’t bill me extra.”

Now, my friend is a calm sort, a little timid even. I couldn’t imagine how her lawyer would be angry with her. This man had not only upset his client, but he had also failed in his ethical duty to respond. He ignored and then insulted her. He lost an opportunity to impress her with good service. And this attorney cost himself dozens of potential new cases.

If I am nice to our clients, not only am I doing my job, but I’m letting them know that I appreciate their business. What is the likelihood that they will recommend me to family and neighbors? In my experience, it’s very likely. All I could tell my friend was, “Sorry that you had such a bad experience. Next time, please ask me if I can give you the name of a colleague who will do the job right.”

Doing the job right begins and ends with client service.

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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