Should the client always be right? Collaboration for Client Satisfaction

Should the client always be right? Collaboration for Client Satisfaction

Jane Schuette, M.A.

Word Count: 568
Time to Read: 1-2 minutes

Every law firm today is concerned with business development; we invariably at one time or another have been told that “the client is always right.” However, when considering the new economy, is this statement still true and should it continue to be our mantra in client relations?

For the answer let’s look at brain research and human survival in earlier times. According to Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules, to survive, early humans needed to collaborate. To contend with the large beasts of the land, early humans figured out that teamwork and cooperation were the answers to continued existence. In studying the Pilgrims’ first few years in America, we find that the celebration of Thanksgiving was due to their friendship with Squanto who taught them how to live in the new world; survival was due to forming a positive relationship on both sides.

Partnering is the answer not only for survival, but also for flourishing in the future. Dr. Medina states, “We learned to cooperate, which means creating a shared goal that takes into account your allies’ interests as well as your own. Of course, in order to understand your allies’ interests, you must be able to understand others’ motivations, including their reward and punishment systems. You need to know where their ‘itch' is.” He further explains that the “relationship” between two people is key.

Simply stated, collaboration, the act of working together, is needed for success. Furthermore, we need to have a relationship which Encarta Dictionary defines as connection, behavior or feelings toward somebody else, and friendship. How do we do that?

Let me suggest four steps to sharpen collaborative and relationship skills:

  1. Check your mindset – are your clients “prey” to be captured or people with needs? Are you competing with team members or collaborating with them to provide success for your client?        
  2. Listen, Listen, Listen – Did I say listen? Used to hearing about the importance of building the relationship, we take clients out to lunch, dinner, golfing, sporting events and whatever else we can think of to “build the relationship.” What is forgotten is that these events are providing opportunities to LISTEN, not providing opportunities to give our “sales pitch.” Most of the time, we pretend to listen when we are simply reloading our own thoughts to shoot into the next opening.        
  3. Be Mission Minded – Are you clear on the mission? And mission doesn’t mean the business development target for the year. What is your clients’ mission? Have you asked? What would you be doing differently if your mission were as simple as enabling your client to become a superstar?        
  4. Take care of yourself – Are you in a positive mental space that is enabling you to be a creative problem-solver with your client? Is this about you or about the client? Can it be about both? If the answer is yes, then you are entering the productive state of collaboration.

Collaboration plus relationship equals success. Are you a vendor or a partner? Are your clients your adversaries or friends? As Dr. Medina declares, do you know your clients’ “itch”? Do you know their interests, motivations, and passions? By collaborating with our clients, now our friends, together we offer this world something spectacular.



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