I have recently had two client relationship experiences I believe are worth sharing. In the first, I was the potential service provider and in the second I was the client. Tell me what you think of my response to each situation.

A couple of months ago I received a nice email from a marketing director. He told me he had heard good things about my coaching and his firm was starting a coaching program. He outlined what he had in mind, which fit me to a tee since it included both group coaching and individual coaching of lawyers from different offices and practice groups. He ended by suggesting we set up a call.

I responded expressing interest and he suggested a time for our call the next day. The next day I received an email saying a conflict had arisen and suggesting we talk two days later on a Thursday. On Thursday, I waited by the telephone but never received a call, or an email suggesting another conflict had arisen.

Contrary to advice I give lawyers to not follow up simply because they have not heard from the potential client, after a month without a call or an email, I contacted the marketing director and told him I assumed they had found a different person to do the coaching. He replied saying the firm had not made a final selection yet.

After pondering all of this for an evening, I sent an email asking to be taken out of consideration. My greatest concern came when the marketing director postponed the call to a specific day and then went silent until I sent the email a month later asking if they had hired another coach.

My experience as a client was even more bizarre. For years I went to a specialist doctor because of potential cancer. That doctor decided to retire and recommended a doctor. For the last three years I have gone to that doctor. After each visit I schedule the next appointment with the receptionist.

I was supposed to visit for labs on a date when later I was scheduled to be out of town, so I called the doctor’s office. I explained the conflict and asked to reschedule the labs. The receptionist took my name and date of birth. When she next spoke she told me they had no record of me being a patient. I made sure I was speaking to the correct doctor’s office and since he practiced in two cities I checked to make sure I had the right office.

She assured me I had the right doctor and right office and once again told me they had no record of me being a patient. I asked to speak to the doctor’s assistant. I was sent to voicemail where I left a message explaining the problem. When no one bothered to call me back, I sent an email to the doctor’s email address (which I assumed would go to his assistant).

It’s been a week, and no one from his office has called. No one from his office has replied to the email. I would have thought since doctors “need” top reviews, someone from his office would have taken care of me.

Update: I received an email from an assistant apologizing for the office blunder and asking for the name of the person with whom I spoke three times.

I replied saying I didn’t know her name and explaining what would happen if a member of my staff told him he was not a firm client

What is my point of each of these two stories:

  1. When a client sets up times to talk with you and then goes radio silent for weeks after the day he scheduled to talk with you, that client is probably not one with whom you will value working.
  2. If anyone in your office ever tells one of your clients that the firm has no record of him or her being a client, and no one from your office responds to voicemails or emails, I recommend you either contact me about joining another firm or find a new profession.