I recently had an experience with a professional service provider that reminded me that there are certain things that lawyers should never forget when receiving referral business.

We all love to receive referrals; after all, you have a brand new client that took no time and effort to obtain. What can be better? In most instances, nothing. However, here are some basic guidelines for lawyers about referrals that at times they forget.

How to Treat Your Referral Sources

Very nicely. You would think that would be obvious, but for some, it is not. You should always promptly thank your referral sources. As a coach, there are times when I refer my clients to other service providers for expertise that I do not have. It never ceases to amaze me how many do not take the time to simply send me a thank you email. Do you think I’ll provide them more business? Others of course, bend over backwards to thank me and will continue to receive referrals from me.

Now, here’s the experience prompting this post. I referred a very close personal friend to a professional service provider (not a lawyer) who I have provided business to for the past five years and had every intention of continuing to do so for the next five given the nature of the service. Well, as it turned out, my friend had an awful experience with this professional. Needless to say, I felt terrible and called the provider to hear his side of the story. I will not bore you with the details, but he was extraordinarily defensive and simply refused to accept any responsibility for the perceived fiasco. While I would not describe his tone as rude to me (it came pretty close, though), his attitude was clearly one of “I don’t give a _____ what your friend thinks, we did the best we can.” End of discussion. Well, with an attitude like that, needless to say, I’ll never refer anyone to him again and cease doing business with him.

What’s the lesson here? When you get cases from referral sources that for whatever reason goes bad, be very, very careful how you handle it. You may not care about the client you had the bad experience with, but you may very well lose a client and continuing referrals.

Originally posted on www.lawyerist.com.