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Answer Your Phone

PhoneOne of our more popular blog posts last year talked about the importance of actively listening to clients in a world of many distractions. We quoted author Sherry Turkle’s observations about putting away your cell phone to invest in the conversation and connect.

But what about when you’re not in person but talking on the phone? Most lawyers (should) know basic phone etiquette such as being personable, avoiding distractions like checking email and not eating/chewing gum, etc. But many lawyers miss the most important thing—actually answering the phone. Clients bring it up regularly, either as a complaint or a compliment:

“With some outside counsel, you have to call three times before getting a returned phone call.”

“It drives me crazy! It’s usually an emergency and I get the attorney’s voicemail and then their assistant’s voicemail. When I finally get to a switchboard, they don’t know anything.” 

“The attorneys are always willing to take a phone call without prior notice and help you out if they are available. To me, that is a valued quality and not the case with a lot of other attorneys.”

“He always answers the phone and is great at answering quick questions.”

“They are too reliant on voicemail.”

Obviously there are times when you can’t answer your phone, but do your best to answer whenever you are at the office. Clients highly value your ability to answer and provide quick responses when possible, and clients should always be able to get someone else on the phone when you’re not there. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest positive (or negative) impression.

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