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Treat Your Customer Better

As most of my regular readers know, my mother died recently. Most of you don’t know that my dad died 42 years ago. At his death, he created a trust that included his life insurance proceeds and some securities. The trust was designed to support my mother during her life, and at her death, it was to be terminated. Its proceeds will be divided among their children.

My uncle, who is now almost 90 and lives in another state, is the trustee of my father’s trust. He wrote to me asking how to dissolve the trust. I forwarded the letter to our estate lawyers asking for advice. They responded, “In terms of the steps your uncle needs to take now, he should contact an attorney who can represent him and help terminate the trust and distribute its assets.”

I must admit, and I hope you do not feel less of me, this advice irritated me. Sure, it was accurate but it was not helpful. My 90 year old uncle needs to find a lawyer--must it be in the state of the trust--who he does not know to represent him (or the trust?) in order to terminate it. It is indeed doable and I will search for the appropriate lawyer.

A much better response would have allowed that our current lawyers cannot represent my father’s trust and my uncle because of a conflict of interest.

The letter should have listed a number of lawyers who could do that work efficiently and economically and would work closely with our current lawyers. The letter would offer to reach out to one of the lawyers and make an introduction to my uncle.

Our lawyers did the bare minimum and made a client unhappy.

As we interact with our customers, we must think deeply. We need to meet our customer’s surface needs, and we also need to ask ourselves what can I do that will make my customer’s life easier? How can I go the extra step to help her solve her problem? What would I want in the exact same situation?

Artificial Intelligence and the annoying phone trees can do the former; only a person thinking about the customer, her history and providing great service can do the latter.

And taking that extra step for the customer will create a happy and a repeat customer. In a world competing for every consumer dollar; such a super fan customer is worth her weight in gold.


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