GUEST POST from Shep Hyken
Most customer-focused businesses work very hard to streamline their encounters and interactions with potential clients, curating the experience to the smallest detail so every step of the process can be managed and controlled. It all starts with a customer journey map that optimizes the process. When the process is consistent and predictable, you start to build trust with your customers. And, there’s a way to take that trust to another level, and that’s with transparency.
Darryl “The Hammer” Isaacs, a Kentucky-based attorney, has built a profitable career by being surprisingly straightforward — another word for transparent — with his clients. He has the process down, which means he knows the law and how to litigate. But just as important as winning a lawsuit is how his clients are treated.
Since it opened in 1993, his firm, Isaacs & Isaacs Personal Injury Lawyers, has helped thousands of people recover over $2 billion from insurers. He is a celebrity in the three states where he operates (Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio), with plenty of TV ads and billboards lining the highways. But Isaacs will tell you that his secret goes beyond exposure from a big ad budget. And it isn’t about knowing the law and winning. For him, it’s just as important to build a reputation by being transparent. And he takes the concept to an even higher level by being radically transparent.
I had a chance to learn from Isaacs’ success and his thought process, which he says is based on three concepts: being humble and embracing adversity, providing easy access and trusting the public with your pain.
1. Embrace Humble Beginnings and Adversity
Isaacs’ journey to becoming a lawyer wasn’t easy. It began at age six when he watched his father’s legal swearing-in ceremony. That inspired him to want to practice law, but inspiration wasn’t enough. He failed the bar exam the first two times he took it. No one would blame Isaacs for keeping that information from the public. After all, in the competitive legal field, lawyers like to let clients know about their prestigious law schools, industry awards and big wins. Isaacs recognized the importance of that, but also chose to embrace his “humble beginnings” as a possible advantage. He believed people could relate to his struggle. This transparency makes him real and approachable to his clients. He also has an incredible work ethic. Isaacs says, “I’m not smarter than other lawyers, I just work harder.” His clients may not know about the legal world’s awards and top schools, but they understand and appreciate hard work.
2. Provide Unexpected Access
Have you ever tried to reach the CEO or owner of a successful company? Typically, the bigger and more prosperous the company, the more challenging it is to get through to the business owner or high-level execs. Isaacs is not only successful, but his advertisements and reputation have given him celebrity status in his market. His firm has more than 55 employees, many of whom could act as a “first line” of defense for deflecting calls, emails, letters, etc. But Isaacs embraces the concept of approachability. He happily shares his direct line and cell number with his clients. Text him, and he responds. Call him, and he returns the call. Isaac believes, “If you provide unexpected direct access, clients feel valued and appreciated.”
3. Trust the Public with Your Pain
Similar to the way Isaacs embraces his humble beginnings, he embraces the transparency of results. In an age of social media, it’s nearly impossible to hide any negative news affecting a high-profile business. Issacs says, “The best option is to get comfortable and let the public in.” In other words, embrace the negative and view it as an opportunity to be authentic and transparent. And it goes beyond social media reviews and comments. Isaacs took this concept to a personal level in 2015 when he was hit by a speeding car while riding his bicycle. His neck was broken in two places, and he sustained a traumatic brain injury. The face of a successful company was now in the hospital in a near-death situation. That could have been the beginning of the end for the firm. He might not ever be back. And what if people found out about this? Well, rather than try to keep the news out of the press, Isaacs did a phone interview from the hospital. First, he wanted to let the world know he wasn’t dead and would be back. Second, he was now experiencing a similar condition to many of his clients. Isaacs knew transparency—and even vulnerability—at this level would make him more approachable. The result was an even higher level of trust.
Isaacs uses the word radical, meaning extreme or intense, to demonstrate just how important it is for him and his firm to be transparent. But are his three concepts really that radical or extreme? Maybe, because customers aren’t used to this level of transparency, but isn’t this what customers want? Isaacs’ three concepts could easily form a foundation of transparency that would help any company or brand, big or small, build trust, create confidence and connect emotionally with customers.
This article was originally published on Forbes.com.
Image Credit: Shep Hyken
Sign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.