I was walking to the park with my daughter when she asked me to hold her hand. There is no feeling like my child’s hand in my own. But I was confused when, as we were holding hands, my daughter said, “No, Mommy, hold my hand.” I thought I was. I was not. Rather, I was letting her hold my hand. My fingers were still outstretched and not wrapped around her hand. She wanted the security of my hand holding her tightly.
In our law firms, how often do we believe we are holding our client’s hand when actually we are not? We feel we are providing a top-notch service but we are not. Are we holding their hand or really just letting them hold ours?
Becoming eligible for and applying for veterans benefits is complicated. The client must be instructed step-by-step through the process. The same is true for Medicaid applicants. From the time the client engages our services through the receipt of a benefits award, we are regularly communicating and giving instruction. I know we have stopped holding their hand when the client calls and says, “Why isn’t this going faster?” or “I’ve paid all this money and I don’t think we’ve gotten our money’s worth,” or “It just doesn’t feel worth this trouble,” or “I wish I had not even hired you.”
Those are not words you want to hear from a client. They are often followed by words that sound like “refund.” It is easy to get defensive and blame the system or the VA. But what is really happening? We have stopped holding our client’s hand and just let them hold ours. We have stopped providing them the security they need to feel safe and confident in us.
Perhaps not everyone on the team even knows they are supposed to hold your client’s hand. My marketing director was speaking with a nursing home administrator during a synergy meeting. The nursing home administrator asked, “Do you hold your client’s hand through the process?” My marketing director said, “Oh, no, we don’t hold their hands.” When I heard that, I was confounded. How could he say such a thing when we work so hard to please our clients? His definition and my definition of holding hands was different. Just like when I was holding my daughter’s hand, her definition was different from mine. Her expectation was different from mine.
I encourage you to review your office procedures and processes. Are you providing to your client the sense of security you believe you are providing? Are you meeting the expectations you have given your clients? Where can you more securely hold their hand? Just a slight adjustment will make a huge difference to them. Now, when I hold my daughter’s hand, I pay close attention to ensure that my fingers wrap around her hand, as she wants, expects and needs.
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Victoria L. Collier, Co-Founder, Lawyers with Purpose, LLC, Certified Elder Law Attorney through the National Elder Law Foundation; Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys; Founder and Managing Attorney of The Elder & Disability Law Firm of Victoria L. Collier, PC, www.ElderLawGeorgia.com; Co-Founder of Veterans Advocates Group of America; Entrepreneur; Author; and nationally renowned Presenter.