A Professional Service Provider’s Guide to Customer Service


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Whether you’re a doctor or lawyer, customer service works a little differently for a professional service provider. You have to be careful about what you do and say while finding ways to show you care.

Do you have trouble walking that fine line and making the most out of each client interaction? Let’s take a look at some of the best tips, gathered from industry experts, and how you can put them to use with your firm, practice, or business.

Tips for attorneys and other legal professionals

As an attorney or legal professional, you have to be careful about how you deal with both potential and existing clients. Learning how to reach out to people without overstepping proper boundaries is crucial, but the following pieces of advice should help:

Return every call. This one’s pretty straightforward, but it’s surprising how seldom it’s followed. You need to respond to every single voicemail you receive. Even if you have no interest in taking a person’s case or providing guidance, you should pick up the phone and let them know. You never know when the same person might return in the future and you’ll be in a position of wanting to accept him or her as a client.

Ask for feedback. While you can attempt to gauge how well you’re doing with customer service yourself, you’ll always be biased. For honest feedback, ask your most trusted clients. Questions like “What was the greatest benefit of working with me?” or “How could I improve my service?” can elicit extremely helpful feedback.

Learn to balance. According to Judge Advocate and Attorney-at-Law Patrick McLain, “There is a balance when it comes to how you treat people in a legal setting. In my experience, I’ve come to realize clients want both sensitivity and professionalism.” As an attorney, you deal with emotionally-driven cases on a daily basis. Learning to show emotion while retaining professionalism is the mark of a truly successful lawyer.

Tips for doctors and medical professionals

As a doctor or medical professional, you also have to be careful with your client interactions. Given HIPAA laws, industry regulations, and insurance rules, you can’t simply say whatever you want.

Fortunately, there are ways to provide quality customer service without stepping out of line. Consider the following helpful tips:

Don’t miss the objective. When a doctor stops thinking about medical care and begins to focus on marketing, advertising, and business, the situation often falls apart. Remember that you are a doctor first, and focus on providing high-quality medical care above all else. From there you can begin to expand. As Van Thompson writes, “No matter how nice a doctor or nurse is, a patient will not feel good about her experience if she’s misdiagnosed or not given good medical advice.”

Follow up yourself. For a patient, nothing is more frustrating than receiving treatment from a doctor and never hearing from him or her afterwards. Instead of completely delegating communications to an administrative assistant, find the time to make personal phone calls. This can go a long way toward establishing rapport and encouraging ongoing communication.

Avoid medical jargon. You’ve spent five, eight, or ten years in post-graduate school learning specific medical vocabulary, but your patients haven’t. Learn to speak differently when you are talking with patients; use layman’s terms instead of medical jargon. Patients want doctors they can relate to: professionals who can explain things in easy-to-understand terms.

The choice is yours

When you’re a professional service provider, you have a choice between providing mediocre or great customer service. Instead of following standard practices and procedures, find ways to set yourself apart and show people you truly care about their business.

Although it may take more time, money, and effort, you will definitely notice a payoff down the road.

Larry Alton
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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