When I started this service in 2001, any time the phone rang I would have my secretary answer it. We get a high volume of calls every day, so usually I’d be sitting at my desk, just waiting for the call to be transferred. I did this for no other reason than it was my belief that people expected that they’d have to talk to a secretary first.
I quickly realized that this was a dumb policy. We try to be as direct and plain English as we can be and break down any stereotypes that people may have about working with an attorney. So now when you call us for legal advice or an attorney referral, you will immediately speak with a lawyer unless everyone that is in the office is on with another client. Even then, you’ll almost always get a call back within five minutes.
I’m glad we do things this way because it makes us more efficient as well as more customer service focused. It’s also how I want to be treated as a consumer. I used to love calling Southwest Airlines when there phone had no menu options, but instead had an agent pick up usually after 1-3 rings. That’s what happens with us.
I’m writing about this because twice in the last month we’ve had someone call that didn’t believe the person who answered was actually a lawyer. “No attorney would answer their own phone” is what one of them said, assuming that we were running some sort of scam.
We can’t help everyone and don’t promise to. But we do guarantee that we’ll treat you like a family member or friend. Part of that involves being direct and honest, even when it’s not what you want to hear. The other part involves giving good service. We don’t think that we are too good to answer our own phones when we can.
No matter what business you are dealing with, you should expect great customer service. There are too many wonderful companies that are out there to deal with the ones that don’t care how they treat you.
The silver lining to this, for me at least, is that when some people find out that they are talking to a lawyer right away it makes them feel more comfortable and lets them realize that we are what we say we are.
Written by Michael Helfand