Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is Anyone Listening?

Last night, I caught the end of Neil Cavuto's show, when he told a story that made me think - he said that he was shopping for a Mother's Day gift and went into a store. Both the store owner and his wife came over to him within the first few minutes to see if they could assist him with finding a gift to purchase. He told them both politely that he preferred to look by himself, that he didn't have anything in mind, but was in a hurry, so he wished to be left alone. They did so, but only for a minute. As soon as he picked something up to look at it, they both immediately came over to him again, giving him information he hadn't asked for, insisting that the gift he was looking at must be what he wanted, and continuing to badger him. He again asked them to let him look for the gift in private, and they continued to ask him what he was looking for and let him know that the gifts in the section he was standing in could all be mailed. As he was getting more and more exasperated, his phone rang. It was his daughter in the store next door, saying that she had found a gift. So he walked out of the first store, leaving the patrons in shock. His message was that "no one is listening."

That message got me thinking - are we guilty of the same thing? Do we bother our clients or potential clients with information that they've asked not to receive? Do we help them when they need it and let them be when they want some solitude? What is our customer service experience really like for them - are we overbearing, like these store owners? Or are we facilitators, business partners, trusted advisors? Do we insist that we know what's best for them, without finding out what it is that they really want and need? Does that ultimately push them away? I think Cavuto's message is a good reminder that part of being great at our jobs, whether as legal marketers, as attorneys, or in any other field, is really listening to our clients, their needs, and even the underlying needs and wants they have that they might not be expressing. Ask yourself today, are you listening?


  1. Great post Lindsay! You're right. It seems the issues we continue to face these days are people not listening, people not servicing and people not understanding how to interact with other people. These are serious problems as they are causing a society of under (or inadequately)-served, underwhelmed and unequipped clients and customers. Thanks for spending time talking about this.

  2. Thanks Nancy, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I was just struck last night about how clear it was that the store lost his business because they were being pushy, giving him too much information, and telling him what he wanted instead of listening, and it made me wonder how many clients we're offending/pushing away by doing the same thing in our own spheres!

  3. Just discussed this very issue at marketing meeting this morning. Putting together topics to cover in client survey to find out if we are offering value added info or just more noise. Reminds me of "The Platinum Rule." We all have heard of the Golden Rule - treat others as you would have them treat you. Platinum Rule says treat others as they wish to be treated.

    Julie Ellis

  4. Julie, thanks for the comment - I haven't heard "The Platinum Rule" in a long time, so I'm glad you shared it!

  5. Could anyone point us in the right connectivity on the subject of property my wife was left from her father some 25+ years ago in Panama, Central America. It would be a crime to nature and her birth rights to have her acreage of rain forest's and home just siezed out from under her.
    Her Mother moved as a last resort and never had ANY idea what they left behind.
    I've been trying to solve this question, but I need some more help. I am a Retired US Navy Vetran, if that helps AT ALL, it hasn't so far, with limited knowledge and resources on International Property Laws.
    Edward & Michelle Himes
    (814) 362-0389
    Bradford, PA USA

  6. Hi Edward - Unfortunately, this isn't the type of work that our firms handle, or many of the firms of the contacts that I have. I would recommend calling the ABA to see if they might have a partner firm that they could refer you to.

  7. I agree with what you said here. It's True. The world is moving too fast and people are too busy doing their own things and that brings about a doubt to people actually listening to what we have to say here.

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