Feb 23, 2023
How do you handle client-facing mistakes? As much as we try to avoid them, mistakes are inevitable, even for us perfectionist attorneys.
And because they are inevitable, attorneys need to have a plan for how to respond when they happen. My experience working at the Four Seasons provided a great framework for how to deal with mistakes, using "glitch reports" to document errors and review them with our staff at regular meetings.
There are three steps that attorneys should take when mistakes happen: apologize and take ownership of the mistake, empathize with the client by acknowledging how the mistake has affected them, and show how you will make it right.
It's important to not apologize, but also give clients a concrete plan for how you will correct the mistake and meet their needs.
I conclude the episode by repeating the magic phrase I learned at the hotel: "I'm sorry this happened, but there's nothing I can say right now that will undo what has happened. What can we do to make this better?"
By following these steps and showing genuine concern for their clients, attorneys can recover from mistakes and continue to provide excellent service.
Closing Exercise: Consider the last client-facing mistake you dealt with.
1. Magic Words: "There's nothing I can say that will undo what happened. What can I do now?
2. What options are there to fix things for your clients? What's in your toolkit? Should you reconsider your processes?