Search Results for: apology

Do your customers trust your apology?

In this NYT article, author Daniel Pink challenges businesses to speak like real people.  The whole article is worth your time, but what grabbed me was this simple quote from the head of the t-shirt site Threadless:

The best way to figure out if you're running a good company is to figure out if your customers trust your apology.

I think this is right on, and a great measure for every business.  Do your customers trust you when you apologize to them for making a mistake?  You do apologize, don't you?

Don’t Dismiss Unhappy Clients

Seth Godin nails it:

The complaining customer doesn’t want a refund.  He wants a connection, an apology and some understanding. He wants to know why you made him feel stupid or ripped off or disrespected, and why it’s not going to happen again.

How do you deal with the complaining customer?  You can start by learning how to apologize.


(Image from Hugh MacLeod’s series of “Business Greeting Cards“)

Apologies Necessary

I’ve written before about the value of an apology and how an authentic “I’m sorry,” can strengthen the attorney-client relationship after a mistake or slip up.  However, if a phone call or face-to-face meeting is too hard, consider sending one of these instead:

(from Hugh MacLeod’s new series of “Business Greeting Cards“)

Resolve to Apologize Better


Everyone makes mistakes.  Even lawyers.  That's why, in 2010, you should Resolve to Apologize Better.  

Why apologize?  Apologies increase client loyalty and reduce malpractice exposure.  But how do you apologize better?  Practice! 

Here's a great guide from Psychology Today (about apologizing to women) that sets out the six mandatory elements a good apology:

1. Acknowledge the Wrongful Act

2. Acknowledge that You Have [Caused Harm].

3. Express Your Remorse

4. State Your Intention Not to Repeat

5. Offer to Make Amends

6. Seek Forgiveness

Read the entire article for examples of language you should and shouldn't use, and practice apologizing.  You may find a well-timed apologize helps you as much as it helps your relationship with your client.

Reactivate Past Clients

John Jantsch gives us Seven Tips to Dig Out from a Recession.  The one you should focus on today:

Reactivate past customers – Where did I put that customer anyway, I know they are around here somewhere. Sad but true, sometimes we don’t bother to communicate with current customers unless they call with an order. By the time they have decided someone else appreciates their business more, it’s too late. Reach out to lapsed customers and make them an apology, promise to never ignore them again, and make them a smoking hot deal to come back.

You Always Have to Say “I’m Sorry.”

Want to keep your unhappy clients from suing you? Apologize. Bob Sutton writes about the Virtues of Apologies and shares a NY Times article about how doctors and hospitals are reducing malpractice claims (by a sizable amount) by simply apologizing. Read the article and the post for some of the reasons why you should apologize.

What I want to share, though, is this gem from Bob’s post:

[T]he best single diagnostic question for determining if an organization is learning and innovating as it moves forward is: What Happens When People Make a Mistake?

What’s the answer for your firm?

Legalmatch and Me

Of all of the amazing things that have happened to me because of this blog, perhaps the most interesting (and hardest to explain) is my relationship with LegalMatch. 

Back in April 2004 I wrote a short post titled Why I’ll Never Use LegalMatch, in which I took the company to task for its sales tactics.  I’d been writing this blog for a few months and thought nothing of the post or the title.  The post attracted (and continues to attract) dozens of comments about LegalMatch — some positive, but most negative.  I followed up the original post with several more, including some interesting give-and-take with LegalMatch executives.  Ultimately, I received an offer from LegalMatch CEO Randy Wells to meet him in New York.  The result of that meeting was this Apology from LegalMatch posted on my blog. 

LegalMatch next asked me to come to San Francisco to visit their offices and meet with their people.  I got a peek inside LegalMatch’s technology, met some of the company’s people, and extended an invitation to Randy Wells to come to LexThink. 

After LexThink, Randy asked if we (my LexThink partners Dennis Kennedy, Sherry Fowler and I) would do a “private” LexThink event for LegalMatch in lieu of their traditional management retreat.  We agreed, and I facilitated their management retreat last weekend.  LexThink, Inc. charged LM $5,000.00 for the event.

At the retreat, I saw forty LegalMatch managers brainstorming about how to make their company better.  I also engaged many of them in (sometimes heated) discussions about how their methods had alienated folks like me and countless other potential customers.

Gullibility Break:  Look, I know my post and the resulting comments have cost LegalMatch hundreds of thousands of dollars (this figure comes from someone outside of LM).  Just Google LegalMatch, and you’ll understand why, though I’m a bit concerned because at least once a week, someone Googles “LegalMatch” over and over and follows each link back to my blog posts — perhaps to keep my year-old post high up on Google’s first page?

I’ve also learned that many of the internal policies (and people) that led to the things I complained about have changed.  If my experiences with LegalMatch are part of some sort of “grand plan” to sucker me in to coming over to the LM “dark side,” I’ve got to admit that it has been masterfully planned, acted, and executed.

Starting today, I’m changing the title of my original post to “Don’t Sell Like This.”  The comments will remain active, and the content won’t change.  The titles of the rest of my LM posts will stay the same, and I’ll keep the LegalMatch category alive.

Full Disclosure Break:  While a part of me thinks I’m an idiot for not demanding that LegalMatch pay me $XXX,000.00 for removing all of the LM posts from my blog, I’ve not gotten anything personally from LegalMatch for writing this post or doing what I’m doing.  The only compensation I’ve received from the company is the value of two airplane flights, a few nights in a hotel room, a couple of lunches and two dinners for the meetings in NYC and SF.  I’ve received no promises and have no expectations. 

I’m ultimately doing what I’m doing because I think it is right, and because I’ve gotten to like a lot of folks at LegalMatch.  Will I work with LegalMatch in the future?  Possibly.  Will LegalMatch be involved with LexThink in some way?  Maybe.  Is this some horrible violation of blogger ethics?  I’m sure you’ll tell me so.  Thanks for your time, and now back to regular blogging.


LegalMatch Apologizes

Several weeks ago, I got a telephone call from Randy Wells, the LegalMatch CEO. Randy wanted to meet with me in person, and (after I was certain the purpose of the meeting was not to serve me with summons) I suggested we meet during LegalTech New York. (Full Disclosure Time: LegalMatch picked up the tab for my trip to NYC.  I did not agree to do anything in exchange for the trip, other than meet with Randy Wells.)

Randy and I had a nice conversation during dinner – most of which was “off the record” – and we discussed LegalMatch’s reputation problem. I told Randy that, though my blog has become sort of a clearinghouse for LegalMatch comments pro and con, my only problem with his company’s service was (and remained) the methods they used to entice lawyers to subscribe to their LegalMatch service.

While Randy assured me that things were changing inside LegalMatch, I suggested to him, in true ClueTrain fashion, that he needed to open a dialog with all those who seem to really hate his company, including the people who continue to leave unfavorable comments on this blog.  

Randy took my advice, and has sent me the following letter that I post (unedited) in its entirety. If you have comments, feel free to leave them to this post, because I know LegalMatch is reading.   Otherwise, call Randy directly. His telephone number is at the end of the letter.



To Our Colleagues in the Legal Community,

 On behalf of LegalMatch, I would like to personally apologize for a number of overly aggressive sales practices conducted by the company in the past. After consulting with many individuals and groups within the legal community and after a thorough review of our internal practices, it became clear that LegalMatch was less than professional in its approach.

As a result, since taking over the position of CEO at LegalMatch, I have implemented a number of improvements to our marketing team and their practices that will immediately address and rectify these issues, including: 

1)  A new training program with focus on best-in-class, professional marketing practices.
2) A new improved compensation system that is no longer 100% commission based – reducing the ‘sell-at-all-costs’ mentality.
3) A reorganization of the marketing team that will make it much more customer-centric and friendly.

In addition, the company’s founder, Dmitry Shubov, understands that in order for the company to continue it’s phenomenal growth (53% 2004) that he must divest his majority stake in LegalMatch.

There are several negotiations in process.

Given Dmitry’s vast experience in the online legal category, LegalMatch will retain his services as an outside consultant.

This decision, along with our new programs and ongoing improvements, marks the end of one chapter in the company’s history, and the start of an exciting, new chapter in our continued growth. Our mission today is to build on these renewed values and principles that aim squarely at serving the legal community. Helping consumers find qualified attorneys and helping attorneys develop and focus a law practice is at the core of our company’s vision today.

Once again, I hope you will accept this apology and invite everyone to give LegalMatch another chance in the near future.

If you have any questions, please feel to email or call me directly.


Randy Wells

CEO of LegalMatch