Eric Campbell, CEO of National Family Solutions works closely with clients who are dealing with emotionally charged situations. Divorce, child custody and visitation are the main reasons why NFS has clients. They are a bit like Legal Zoom for divorce court.
As attorneys and legal document assistants prepare documents for heated child custody battles, National Family Solutions has developed a platform that guides clients through this process.
Although the company does not actually provide legal advice or representation, its services were developed to provide access to legal professionals for those less fortunate than others. As a result of focusing on clients who are dealing with family law issues, Mr. Campbell and the entire NFS team have learned the best ways to assist people who are in a heightened emotional state as they prepare to go to court.
This goes far above and beyond simple client retention and customer service, and that is what struck me as unique. I can only imaging it is similar to being a claims adjuster during a natural disaster; many of their clients feel that life cannot get any worse that it is currently, a tall order for any company to maintain client composure.
I had a chance to discuss this with Mr. Campbell, and how his team works with people in already heated situations. It is most likely one of the most difficult times in for anyone; going to court over child custody.
1. What level of interdepartmental discussion is utilized and how does it assist clients?
Our departments are all very open with each other about newfound solutions and potential problems. We have weekly meetings where the company gets lunch for everyone. We tell stories about the past. I write down what sticks for people on a whiteboard. We dicuss those topics the following week and how certain departments utilized them with either success, or quite honestly, failure.
I have never understood secrecy. What problem does secrecy solve in your organization again? Very little in my opinion. If you are trying to be secretive, you are going to be a lonely owner that is unaware of what is transpiring around you.
For example, if I am aware that a female client has an abusive husband, she is going to need additional emotional support. In some cases, situations needed to be escalated quickly to upper management.
Many times throughout the year I have had to have "that conversation" about calling Child Protective Services or even 911. This is not something lower level personnel should ever be dealing with.
2. Can you share more details with us about the role of technology as a communication tool?
We know that emotionally charged clients need the easiest, most convenient way to connect with us; and so we started using Google voice to text clients.
Although email does have practical benefits, we have learned that texting is much more client friendly for millennials. Our response rates are far higher with texting than with email.
It was also important for us to recognize that some people dealing with a family law case are unable to speak freely over the phone or to use a shared computer to communicate. In fact, our overall approach has made it possible for clients to do almost anything for their case from their smartphone.
3. How does personal employee development impact your clients?
Every company has a responsibility to develop their employees' applicable knowledge base and skills. This is especially vital with our employees who will have direct contact with emotionally charged and vulnerable individuals.
Our number one goal is to empower each client. Parents need to feel empowered in order to become self-motivated. Taking a pro-active role needed to get through their case.
We also focus heavily on the type of words that are used during each communication with our clients. I am a very big fan of "How to Win Friends and Influence People", and also, "Awaken the Giant Within" by Tony Robbins.
Exact wording choice can make the difference between just telling someone what to do and empowering them to take action for their family.
4. How does your team help each client develop better problem solving skills?
One of our key roles is to help clients learn how to see the big picture. It is very easy for a parent in a family law case to look at smaller, more immediate details, but this is often results in seeing how the bigger picture can help, or hurt, their child.
We also know how emotionally based the thoughts of our clients tend to be. Therefore, we help them understand the more logical, realistic expectations that are actually attainable. Without a logic based approach, it is almost impossible for everyone to settle on a workable solution.
5. Where does technology fit into the client cycle?
Family law cases are chaotic by nature, things happen beyond anyone's control. Court delay's for example. This makes emotions flare even higher and become more unpredictable. Fortunately, structure can help rein these emotions in, and we use technology to force that structure. We built what we call a "Case Tracker". It is essentially a "guide book" for people going through a very difficult time. A guide book in the cloud, that is interactive.
Just like any SaaS out there, the objective is to "widgetize" a defined process. This, of course, took us years to refine, but clients are now given that defined process through a Case Management system designed to track progress. User interaction is the key here. Our clients can't "get to the next step" without finishing the current one they're on. This engages the client to focus on "steps and process" as opposed to disparaging thoughts about their ex.
6. How does the team player atmosphere help individual clients?
At National Family Solutions, we place a lot of emphasis on working together as a team. We have many resources that we tap into: attorneys, private investigators, and a PhD in early childhood development. We bring in these professionals remotely to give advice and training to our staff via Google Hangouts; providing continuing education to our staff. It keeps our office humming with positive reaffirmation techniques that we pass onto clients going through the worst moments of their lives.
We also understand how much pressure clients can feel when they do not know the resources that are available to them. Pressure is relieved when clients are given an understanding of these resources that we tap into on a regular basis.
One of the most rewarding things is seeing clients feel such a tremendous sense of relief when they realize it is not "them against the world". We are truly on their side and want to make it possible for them to get the results they desire.