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I enjoy listening to a variety of podcasts while walking the dog or driving to the office. Podcasts are a really amazing thing for those who crave learning, although there seems to be some rule that requires 50 bad shows to appear before you find a really great one. (Have you loaded the Stitcher radio app on your smartphone yet?  You really should.)  The EntreLeadership podcast is one of the better shows being streamed these days, and I had the pleasure of listing to Dale Partridge talk about his new book, People Over Profits.

As you might guess, the message of the book is that a business will not succeed in the long-run if it places profits over people, despite some evidence to the contrary.  Perhaps it is better to say that businesses will be more successful in the long-run if they keep their customer’s best interest at heart.  I think it really comes down to establishing trust.  We trust that Apple computers are top notch and that Starbuck’s coffee is always great–they have earned that reputation.

What Partridge is talking about is more than just good business sense.  We all need a set of core values to steer our personal lives and our businesses as well.  In the long run, businesses and individuals get lost when they routinely put selfish short-term needs and wants ahead of others, especially customers.

I’d like to think we have modeled our law firm with the client needs and wants placed first.  How do we do that?

  • One-on-One Client Relationships.  I strongly believe that each client should be assigned one attorney and one paralegal to handle their case from beginning to end. There is no confusion as to who is responsible or who to call. There is no red tape. You know your team and they know you.
  • We do the Work.  Many firms hand out thick questionnaires for clients to complete that list all debts, property, income and property transfers.  Some of these questionnaires are 50 pages long!  I have two objections to that:  First, bankruptcy law is complex and it is unreasonable to assume that clients can really answer the questions correctly without prior experience.  Second, isn’t filling out paperwork what you pay the attorney to do?
  • Easy Access to Attorneys & Staff.  It is easy to contact our attorneys when questions arise.  Each attorney has a direct phone extension (mine is Extension 100) and appointments over the phone or in person are easy to schedule.  We want you to understand your case and the legal process.  That means we are here to answer questions in person, over the phone, through email or video chat or whatever else it takes.
  • Copies of Documents.  You are entitled to a copy of your case documents without charge whenever needed.
  • Flat Fees.  About 95% of all our cases are charged on a Flat Fee basis.  Nobody likes surprises when it comes to fees.  You know what your case will cost before it is filed.
  • Resources.  Our goal is to provide you with great resources to help guide you through the legal process.  Our website is filled with helpful articles, legal forms and videos to help educate you on your legal rights.  This is a ongoing project that we work on every day.

Creating a customer-focused organization is expensive and challenging. It takes a lot of time and money to be responsive.  In the long-run it pays off.  Deciding to be great instead of mediocre takes commitment, training, planning, money, passion and dedication.  I don’t want to work any other way.

Image courtesy of Flickr and Janine & Jim Eden.