I recently had an issue with a medical bill that was not being paid correctly. After multiple calls to the insurance company and the medical practice’s billing department, I finally figured out where the glitch was. Apparently the physician’s bills were not being submitted under her correct “Provider ID.” I contacted the office manager at the practice to advise her of what was going on, and I received no return call. I waited several days and left another message, and again, I received no return call. After leaving the third message, and getting no response, I was very frustrated and a bit angry. Why couldn’t this person take a few minutes of the day to call me? Who else could I call to get something done?
This unfortunate situation made me think of one of the most common complaints clients have about their attorneys. It is understandable that clients get angry when an attorney does not promptly return their phone call. The longer the period of time that passes between the initial message and the attorney’s response, the more frustrated the client becomes. Wouldn’t you feel the same way? When you call someone back, you are not just conveying the words, you are telling that person that what they said matters to you. Even if you are unable to handle the client’s request immediately, simply letting the client know that you received the message and you will address the issue, is often enough to put his or her mind at ease.
Most attorneys have a client or clients who are very difficult to speak with. You can find yourself thinking that you would rather do ANYTHING but call this person back. I wrote down a phrase from a Lawyers Mutual CLE I attended last February called “Wrestling With Ethical Dilemmas – We Have Met The Enemy…” The following phrase has run through my mind a lot since I attended the CLE, as it is applicable to life in general: “Do What’s Harder When It’s Easier.” Even though you would rather put off that phone call until MUCH later, make yourself call. Even if the client is exhausting or you are delivering bad news, it is easier to have the conversation now than to face a grievance down the road.