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A reply to marketers assuring more clients and better SEO

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Recently, I rented a car at the airport from a major car rental company. It was far from a pleasant experience. The salesperson did not seem to care what I wanted in a car nor that I kept repeating "I decline all insurance and other options that are not required," and "I wish to get into my rental car right away." I surmised he gets a commission for selling such services.

Rarely do I fill out customer satisfaction surveys, but did so this time in reply to an email from the car rental company. In response to my panning the sales agents’ sales overhype, the canned response was that the company wishes its customers to know their product purchasing items — right down to the push for a GPS device, I suppose.

The car itself was just fine. The man who checked my rental contract on my exit was a teddy bear, as was the woman who received the car on my return. Unfortunately, my experience with the salesperson colored the rental car company’s name so negatively that I deeply regret that I overlooked even remembering those kind people who saw me off and back to the agency.

This experience reminds me of many of the emails and voicemails that I receive from marketers, often assuring me more clients and much improved Google rankings if only I will buy their products and services. Too often those marketing communications lack a showing of caring about their potential clients (and, therefore, their current clients), nor an interest in what the customer or potential customer wants. Certainly businesses cannot survive without an interest in making money. However, businesses, lawyers, and all others in commerce who put clients ahead of money are destined to make more money than doing otherwise.

At my own law firm, client service is key for me and my staff. Clients want to know that we are fully committed to them. Potential clients need to feel they have the right fit with the lawyer they choose. My primary interest is in seeing a criminal defendant get the best possible results, whether or nor s/he hires me. My interest in dealing with criminal defense colleagues is to collaborate and brainstorm with them in fighting for justice for criminal defendants, and not in feeling like cutthroat competitors. Cutthroat competition might be more acceptable for widget sellers, but not for lawyers defending those whose liberty and lives are so much at risk.

The late jazz great Bill Evans said it well: "[A]ll I must do is take care of the music, even if I do it in a closet." The audience will come. The same goes for lawyers and everyone else. The video of Mr. Evans in this past Underdog blog entry blows me away every time, and kleeps me focused on my own true path in practicing law.