Posted by: johnocunningham | December 28, 2010

You Can’t Win a Fight With a Client

There is an old saying in the business world that “you can never win a fight with a customer.” Savvy business owners understand that it is always best to resolve  disputes over products or services before they become bitter personal battles because the costs of a fight – damage to reputation, bad press, and permanent loss of at least one customer – almost always surpass the amount in contention.

That lesson was poignantly illustrated by an anecdote from Robert Bowman, president and CEO of MLB.com, at last month’s annual conference of the New England chapter of the Legal Marketing Association.

Bowman told an audience of legal marketers that one of the more prominent law firms in the country once took him to task over $200,000 in controversy on a multi-million dollar bill. The result?

“We will never ever work with that firm again,” said the successful CEO, adding that such disputes are also likely to be a topic of private conversation among clients when they discuss referrals.

An excellent Boston firm has similarly suffered from bad press, however unfair it might be, arising from a billing dispute that played out in public.

Bowman has suggested that law firms should consider getting their marketing departments involved in the resolution of billing disputes (similar to the way in which “customer service” departments do so for businesses) because the damage to brand and reputation from a public dispute is considerable.

Law firms would be wise to heed this advice!

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