How to Avoid Frustrating Your Client

Years ago a friend who was in the hospital said to me, “I think everyone here is amazingly capable but it seems that they have never met each other.”  Having spent much time during the last 3 weeks in the hospital visiting my mother who has pneumonia, I know exactly what he meant.

Everyone in the hospital has his/her own specific job.  For the most part they do it well but they rarely give information to each other.  Sure there is a computer with notes about the patient in it but I’m not sure who besides the nurse ever reads that.

The kitchen of the hospital is a land unto itself.  Occasionally the dietician comes for a visit and listens to what you want.  My mother had no appetite.  Hospital cooking and her special diet (low sodium, diabetic, low cholesterol) made her food pretty tasteless.  She kept asking for soup and ice cream.

I managed to get her the soup but for some reason they kept telling me the doctor had to ok the ice cream.  I finally got the doctor to do that.  He was puzzled why they wouldn’t give it to her.

For a week they did just fine sending sugar free ice cream all week until Saturday.  The weekend person said I needed the doctor’s permission for ice cream!  Of course there is no way to get a doctor’s permission over the weekend and besides he had already given it to the weekday kitchen staff!

Working as a team seems foreign to them.  Instead each group does their own work carefully and sometimes it works well and sometimes the patient is left waiting and waiting….

Too often they expect the patient to remember things that are important.  My mother is diabetic and needs her blood sugar checked three times a day.  One day whoever was supposed to do it never came.

Later in the day the nurse asked my mother if anyone checked her blood sugar that afternoon.  Depending on an elderly woman who has been in the hospital two weeks is not wise.   She answered yes because it had been checked earlier in the day and time stands still when you are in the hospital for so long.

Just as a hospital needs coordination of staff to run smoothly so does a law practice.  How does your office run?  Do you depend on your client to remind you of tasks they have requested?  Does your staff know the latest updates to a client file and why you made the updates so they can be prepared to answer a client’s questions?

There have been times when I have needed my attorney or someone on her staff to remind me why I did something one way and not another.   While some parts of the law may seem obvious to you they are not always obvious to a client.

Not only the attorney but the appropriate members of the staff should be able to answer simple questions.  The members of your office staff are a team.  Do they act like one?


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