Online retailer Amazon touted last week’s Prime Day as “Black Friday” in July. Judging by the sales, it was a success. At the same time, Prime Day was also a huge let-down, leaving many customers angry and frustrated.
The snark was running at full steam on Twitter and other social media sites, generating the trending hashtag: #PrimeDayFail.
What Lesson Can Lawyers Learn From #PrimeDayFail?
Amazon Prime customers were ticked because the sale didn’t match the hype. Common complaints included:
- Sales merchandise is limited and unappealing. [Twitter users poked fun at the “Prime Exclusive” sale of a 24″ shoehorn and other equally unappetizing promotions.]
- Desirable loss leaders sold out in the blink of an eye, leaving shoppers on the west coast empty-handed. [Amazon’s $115 40-Inch TV sold out seconds after the sale started.]
- Not all “sales” were mark-downs and some were the opposite. [In anticipation of the sale, one user reported adding an item to his wish list, only to see the price go up, rather than down, on Prime Day.]
The end result? Amazon sold enough Tupperware to turn a profit but also damaged its reputation.
The lesson for lawyers can be summed up pretty simply: control expectations, keep your word – don’t offer a deal you can’t deliver, and remember that appearances matter. Raising a price on Prime Day doesn’t make Amazon evil, but it doesn’t look good either. Here are your marching orders:
Manage Client Expectations
- Assess cases realistically and present them to clients that way.
- Explain clearly, and confirm in writing, exactly what your legal services will consist of and exactly how the fee will be determined.
- Confirm all advice in writing, particularly if the client chooses not to follow your advice. Explain alternatives and their ramifications, and then let your client decide.
Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver
- Complete work as promised, or let the client know why if it cannot be done.
- Keep the client informed of the progress of his or her case by sending copies of pleadings, correspondence, etc., as well as occasional status reports.
Perception is King – Strive to be Responsive, Timely, Accurate, and Empathetic
- Keep client appointments promptly.
- Establish a standard time for returning client calls and responding to email. Communicate your practices to clients and keep your promise. The PLF offers administrative brochures and other client relation materials that describe these kinds of policies so clients know what to expect. Visit our site, select Practice Management, then Forms, and choose the category Client Relations. If you are unavailable for an extended period, let clients know.
- Take measures to produce professional work product. Clients are forgiving of the occasional mistake, but frequent billing errors, typos, and other clerical snafus can cause the client to question your fees, your work, and your integrity.
- Treat clients with empathy and practice good listening skills. Often the most important client need you can meet is the need to be heard and understood. Clients who feel “well taken care of” rarely file a bar complaint or legal malpractice claim.
[All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis]