How Easy is it to do Business with Your Firm
Now before I head down this path, it’s essential to acknowledge that it is impossible to be perfect in this area, as much as we may all want to be.

While we all endeavour to put in place processes and procedures to master the art of the first impression, it is extremely difficult to get it 100% correct all the time. So, I don’t profess that we have got it absolutely right, but I would like to think that we work pretty hard at it, and I would imagine other firms do the same; particularly where they have someone employed with the title of ‘Director of First Impressions’.

That said, have you or someone you know ever rung your offices? I know one of the goals within our firm is to try and make it as easy as possible for firms/practitioners to do business with us. Part of that is endeavouring to problem solve, to provide an outcome or solution that meets a client’s needs. However, your firm may have a slightly different take on its initial communication goals and objectives. What is the first impression that you want clients to experience when they contact your firm? Presumably you want them to receive a warm welcome, whether it be in person or over the telephone.

Irrespective of your firm’s objectives and how well you think you achieve them, I want to share a couple of experiences that may assist your firm in evaluating its initial communication with clients.

The first was only recently when I was attempting to speak with a practitioner in a reasonable size multi-partner firm. Clearly the firm was busy which was great. The first time I called I was greeted with a message stating that the receptionist was busy, but the call was important to them and that someone would be with me as soon as possible. This is not uncommon in firms, and generally the response time to speak to someone is not too bad.

However, in this instance the wait seemed abnormally long. I didn’t actually observe the time it took to speak with someone but I wouldn’t say it was quick. The second time I called this firm, again I got this message, so I decided to time how long it took to speak with someone. To my surprise, it was close on 10 minutes; only then to be hung up on as the receptionist went to answer my call. I am presuming that wasn’t intentional. That said, again I rang back, again I received the message and this time it was a quicker response period of probably 4 or 5 minutes. As I went through this experience I thought to myself, gee do the firm’s clients also experience this? Because I was thinking, how hard is it to do business with these guys? I appreciate that all firms go through ebbs and flows of peak call times, but this seemed ridiculous.

Probably my second pet hate is contacting a firm and requesting to speak to someone only to be told that they aren’t available. Obviously this is not uncommon and NO that’s not my pet hate; what at times follows that piece of information is actually NOTHING.

The person on the other end of the phone doesn’t ask if someone can help or if they could take a message for the person to return your call, nothing. So as the caller you have to end up asking if it is possible to leave a message or if someone else could help with the query. This is not purely a firm based experience, I find this often, and again I find myself finishing the call wondering whether that individual or company actually has any interest in my business.

So whilst these are only two experiences, if your firm is really interested in a good first impression, it may just be worthwhile investigating with your clients and callers whether there is anything that could be improved to give clients the impression that it is easy to do business with your firm.

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