Picture this scenario: You’re in the office and a client calls you raising their voice and complaining about how much they’ve been billed from your law firm. It’s a busy day and you have a paperwork to file so it’s understandable that you too are frustrated. After some back and forth speaking to your client, the pressure just keeps rising and you find yourself with an unhappy client on the phone that you cannot diffuse. Trying to calm down an irate customer may have happened to you or someone you know, but diffusing the situation is a difficult task without the proper strategies.
By following the 4 bulletproof strategies, you’ll learn how to de-escalate a situation better than before and turn an unhappy customer to one that trusts you and sings your praises.
Let’s break down the psychology of what it means when a customer calls in angry and ready to go to war.
- Your customer may be having a bad day dealing with personal issues
- Your customer already received terrible service from the phone company
- Your customer actually has good reason to be upset
By going on the defensive as soon as your client yells, you automatically assume that they are attacking you as their attorney for not providing them the amazing service you pride yourself in. It’s easy to fall into this trap, as many people do, which ends up causing a heated debate with a customer that needs a problem solved.
L.A.S.T. – LISTEN, APOLOGIZE, SOLVE, and THANK are the 4 strategies you’ll need to turn an angry customer into a calm one.
Before breaking L.A.S.T. down, it’s important that you first empathize with all of your customers. Think about it, your paycheck essentially comes from the clients that pay you for providing them excellent service as an attorney.
Listening to your client doesn’t mean paying attention while they vent out their issue. This shouldn’t be hard to do as an attorney since listening attentively is part of building a solid case. It’s much easier to listen when someone is about to pay you a retainer VS complaining about the invoice you’ve just sent them after a court appearance. Listen attentively and understand where your client is coming from.
After listening to your client, apologize and mean it. Do not, under any circumstances say, “I apologize for this inconvenience.” This is a robotic and cookie cutter template that everyone hates to hear because it’s not genuine. This is why listening is so important – if you’re not attentive, your apology will come out bland and unauthentic. Apologize with intent, “I’m terribly sorry this is happening to you.”
Just because you listened and apologized doesn’t mean the problem that’s perceived is solved. Customers want results and attorneys want them too – provide a solution to your clients and you’re no longer a lawyer, but a troubleshooter that knows the law. This will separate you from your competition. Keep in mind, you may not have the problem solved in real time, but providing steps to a solution is enough to show that you care and are getting things done. Providing these steps also buy you time to do a case study of the situation. What does Listen, Apologize and Solve sound like? “John, I’m terribly sorry that this happened and I know you’re busy so my goal is to make sure we solve this for you as soon as possible. In order to provide the best solutions, I’m going to look into this for you with our billing department and get back to you with a complete explanation in 24 hours.”
Your customer’s feedback is vital to the survival of your law firm and business. Without it, you will slowly sink by doing the wrong things and not know about it. Remember, you are a business that happens to be a law firm, providing great customer service is part of the equation to scaling your law firm. Thank your customer for taking the time out of their day to call you and provide you constructive criticism and feedback. “John, I want to thank you again for bringing this to my attention, I’m glad you called.” Thanking your customer demonstrates that you value their opinion.
Great customer service doesn’t just start and end when you’ve retained them as a new client, it never ends – it’s part of the lifecycle of your law firm. Apply these 4 strategies into your law firm and make it part of your procedures and protocols as soon as you can.