When was the last time you asked a client for feedback about your services and how your office staff works as a team? You might turn up some useful information by doing a client feedback session when their work is complete. I recently had an experience with a hospital that is an example of how frustrating a poorly working team can be. I wish they had asked for feedback!

My mother was in the hospital for 5 weeks. 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." 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.

As a Practice Advisor to attorneys I always notice the operations of other professional service businesses. Do the same problems exist in my clients practices as exist in the hospital?

How about your office? Do your staff people work independently without communicating with each other or do they work as a team? To speak intelligently and helpfully to a client your office staff must understand how a case flows through the office and who might have the necessary information a client is looking for. Each staff member ought to have the basic information on the case so that simple questions can be answered immediately.

During my mother’s stay in the hospital she had very little appetite. The hospital is not known for gourmet cooking and my mother was on a very restricted diet (low sodium, diabetic, low cholesterol). The kitchen of the hospital is a land unto itself. She kept asking for soup and ice cream. They never sent either.

I did manage to get her the soup but for some reason they kept telling me the doctor had to ok the ice cream. The doctor who was puzzled as to why the kitchen was being so difficult did let them know she could have it.

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!

The weekday staff remembered the doctor’s order but no one remembered to update the computer! The weekend staff went by the order in the computer.

How are computer inputs done in your office? Who checks them for accuracy? If you never ask for client feedback about the experience the client had it is possible you may never know about a computer error that affected your client’s experience with your office.

Sometimes an error can be corrected on one level but the impact is not corrected elsewhere. This is particularly true with system errors. Here hopefully someone on your staff knows the whole process and can fix it in all the places necessary. In the end the best indication of how the team and systems work together is by asking for client feedback.

As a patient or a client I usually know what is going on but sometimes because I am sick or upset I can’t be depended on. During my mother’s hospital stay the nurse asked her if anyone had checked her blood sugar. Since her blood sugar is checked 3 times a day my mother couldn’t remember when the last time it was done. Once again the communication between staff members was not done.

In a law office it is not up to the client to remember the details of his/her case. The staff members need to know them or have a way to find them so they can work as a team. When a client or patient is upset it is hard for him or her to remember everything – even facts they have already told you. While some parts of the law may seem obvious to you they are not always obvious to a client.

Professional service personnel have an obligation to the client to handle the details of his or her work carefully. This can only be done when you work as a team, understand the work that needs to be done and carefully communicate with the client. One way to learn how successfully you have accomplished this is by asking for client feedback during the work as well as after it is completed.

Author's Bio: 

Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor (The Attorneys’ Coach) and a Career Changers’ Coach as well as publisher of “Parker’s Points”, an email tip list and “Road to Success”, an ezine. Subscribe now to these free monthly publications at her website http://www.asparker.com/samples.html and receive a Values Assessment as a free gift. Work becomes more meaningful and enjoyable when you work from your values. Parker works with clients who want to be happy at work