Elevating Customer Service in the Digital Age With Josh Kwartler
Existing and past clients and customers have a significant impact on your business, and they can easily become your best marketing strategy. That’s why there’s nothing better than having happy, satisfied clients. But how do you serve their needs — especially in the era of constant digital transformation?
Weaving together people, processes, and technology, Josh Kwartler created a program to help his company communicate better with clients. In the past, the firm would call clients and send letters to check up. Upon listening to client and employee feedback, they realized they needed a more efficient process.
Now — with the new program — when Josh and his team call clients and don’t receive an answer, an automatic text message goes out and gives clients an opportunity to respond on their time. And once they respond, Josh and his team are able to take note and move on without inconveniencing them any further. It’s a win-win for both employees and clients.
But what’s so bad about the old ways of communication? It might work for your company now, but many client preferences are changing. According to Josh, you should always be analyzing new technology and asking, How do people use this? Why are they using it? What are the benefits? You want to be scoping out new technologies and processes to improve efficiency, and ultimately, increase customer happiness.
In this shift toward improved customer service, you can’t forget about your employees. Keeping your people in mind as much as you keep your clients in mind will make everyone happy, help you maintain a great culture, and will enable employees to follow processes and adopt new technologies. When you combine an amazing team with innovative technology, magic happens.
Listen to this episode of The Judd Shaw Way Podcast with Judd Shaw featuring Josh Kwartler, Chief Operating Officer of Kwartler Manus, LLC. Together, they discuss how to improve your customer service and client satisfaction rates by gaining feedback, empowering your people, and leveraging new tools and technologies.
In this episode:
- [1:19] Judd Shaw introduces his guest, Josh Kwartler, and the topic of the day: customer service as it relates to digital transformation
- [4:03] Josh describes the program he created that efficiently caters to client needs through technology
- [6:02] How the team at Kwartler Manus, LLC uses SMS technology to communicate with clients
- [8:06] What are the best ways to go about digital transformation?
- [9:49] How to train your team on the latest technology — and avoid gaps in the process
- [13:27] Josh’s tips for uplifting your people and elevating the employee experience
- [17:07] The importance of interpersonal connection
- [20:18] Josh’s thoughts on leadership in the modern workplace
- [22:52] Top criteria for hiring and showing empathy
- [26:54] How any business can use technology to deliver excellent customer service
Hi everyone. I’m Judd Shaw, host of The Judd Shaw Way Podcast. This podcast seasons’ 10 episodes focus on delivering an excellent customer service. I’ll be hosting industry experts, providing proven customer service pointers as well as some secret inside tips to creating unforgettable, wow moments for your customers.
At the end of each episode, I’ll provide contact information and I welcome any questions or comments. Be sure to ask us to send you some merch from my personal injury law firm, Judd Shaw Injury Law. You’ll also be entered to receive a free copy of my book coming out titled, The Judd Shaw Way.
Today’s topic is customer service as it relates to digital transformation, I will be speaking with Josh Kwartler, chief operating officer of Kwartler Manus, a prestigious Philadelphia personal injury law firm with over 40 years of combined experience. The firm has additional offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Pittsburgh. I hope you enjoy this discussion.
I’m here with my guest, Josh Kwartler. By way of brief background, Josh holds a master’s in business administration, an undergraduate degree in physics. He has worked in the financial technology sector creating knowledge management systems, and is very familiar with Salesforce CRM. At Kwartler Manus Josh focuses on creating processes that enable the firm to provide excellent customer service utilizing new and emerging technologies. Welcome Josh.
Thanks for having me on Judd. Appreciate the introduction.
Thanks for being with us today. We’ll be talking about technology as it relates to customer service. Tell the listeners a little more about yourself. I’m sure you’ll do a better job than I did.
I thought you did a great job. I’ve been in customer service for the last five years. Three years working at a financial technology company in a business to business space. And then for the last two years serving as the chief operating officer of Kwartler Manus in B2C. And you know there’s a lot of things that you can take from the business to business world, where you have long-term clients that affect your business on a daily basis as opposed to in B2C where a client hopefully won’t get hurt again and you may never see them again. But I think it’s important that you really treat every single person that you come into contact with like a long term valuable client, because if you treat them with that kind of respect, they very well may be.
Right, they become like a walking cheerleader. They go out and rave about the service or the business. And essentially they become your best marketing item.
Yeah. There’s nothing better than a happy client. A happy client is one, they’re happy and they’re taken care of, but two when they find somebody who also needs help, they’re going to say, “Boy, do I have a guy for you.” And there’s nothing better than a client referral.
Our firms utilize the same case management system. You’ve also dreamt up, created, and implemented an add-on automation to the software allowing you to keep your clients’ needs balanced with the needs of your internal processes. Tell us a little bit about that.
So we created a program, Hi There, to codify an existing process of following up with our clients while they’re treating into technology to make it easier for them to respond to us. So in the past we used to call and if we couldn’t get somebody on the phone to see how they were doing, we’d send a letter. Now when we call and they don’t pick up, an automatic text message goes out to them, and it gives them an opportunity to respond on their time. And once they send a response back to us, we’re able to log and move on without inconveniencing them any further. Or if they don’t get back to us, we can print out all the letters at one time and make it a little bit easier on our staff.
And we found that this took something that was almost somebody’s full-time job and made it into and hour in a day task for one of our employees, and it just really makes it easier for the clients to feel like we’re hearing them and meeting them where they are by texting them as opposed to forcing them to call, or sending them concerned letters that we’re unable to get in touch with them.
What a great point, right? Technology is intended to make processes more efficient or simplified. And in this case, as it does that for your team, essentially your team being able to be more efficient, practice in a more simplified way, delivers a better customer service experience.
Yeah. The more time that you have freed up to handle the client’s needs, the better service that you’re going to give your client. If you’re spending all of your time doing busy work, and sending out letters that are never going to get responded to, you just have less time to do the things that the clients really want you to be doing, like following up on their case, getting records and getting the best outcome that they can possibly get.
Technology is always emerging, improving, upgrading, but so are the ways we communicate with each other. I noticed that your firm uses a lot of SMS technology to deliver that communication over old ways. Tell us a little about that.
Yeah. I mean we embraced SMS at the beginning of 2019 in a big way, and we’ve seen a huge response from our clients. People don’t really like getting random calls from random numbers. And even as many times as we ask them to save our number, you know we still get more responses from our texts. I mean it’s just the truth, I mean people prefer to text than they do to call.
And it’s important that if your client says, “This is how I want to be communicated with,” you say, “I’m going to meet you there. I mean, I’m your lawyer. And if you like a text message, I’m going to do a text message until we need to have a conversation.”
But for the most part, the day to day interactions, all people want is a quick little, Hey, I’m here. How are you doing? And so that’s why we created Hi There, a little SMS-Magic follow up program that allows us to do that easily while also not taking time away from our day-to-day task that they rely on us for.
Is this automation add-on only able to be used with your current case management system?
Yes, it is a requirement that you are using Salesforce, or and have SMS-Magic. Though we have made some partnerships with SMS-Magic where they’re willing to give a free trial if you’re a Salesforce user and would like to give this a test.
How would you best mention SMS Magic or the ability to contact them if they are also looking to employ this type of technology?
I mean you can reach out to SMS-Magic through their app exchange. They’re in the Salesforce app exchange, also online, email@example.com, or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com, and I’m happy to make an introduction on your behalf.
In my opinion, Kwartler Manus does a really good job at offering a superior customer experience in part, because of your technology. How would you recommend any company, firm, business best go about approaching a digital transformation, whether that be employing new technology, upgrading their technology, or even looking at emerging technology?
Yeah. So when I’m looking at new technology, the first question is always, what is the need, how do people use this? And you want to make sure that anytime you’re changing technology, there’s a noticeable improvement because that gets the buy-in. When people say, “Oh, this use could work this way and I had to do this, but now I can just do this, and it’s much quicker,” all of a sudden that technology’s going to get used.
So finding out what the needs are from the actual people that are going to use the technology is step one, because when you solve those needs, you improve your efficiency and you improve happiness.
Whatever technology a business implements or begins its digital transformation, I have always found that it is important to keep your eye on the customer because it always must be part of your strategy, right? Regardless of what technology you’re using. I find that there’s real awareness within most industries that people have to become more important, right? Processes have to become more important, and that a cultural change to a company is really a reality in any type of digital transformation like switching computer programs, going paper to paperless, using new platforms, being compliant with the changes of laws. And if you don’t get culture right, then all the technology will lose its effectiveness. So how do you roll out or train your team on the latest technology that continues to upgrade and improve?
Well, I think the end of your question is really the key, having a good culture, and having people that buy into your new technology changes is critical. Without buy-in from the team it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t matter how good the technology or the process is, it’s not going to happen. But in terms of rolling it out specifically, I’ll send out a mass e-mail to the team and then go to each member and talk through it and say, “You know, here’s what we’re doing. This is why we’re doing it. Do you have any concerns about this?” And you know, sometimes we’ll take it back to the workshop and change it. But a lot of times we get the buy-in.
And then the most important last step you is to embed trackable information into your processes so that you know when they’re being done and you know when they’re not being done. So that way, even if somebody has a day where they forget and they say, “Oh, I just went back to the old way,” you’re able to catch it very quickly and say, “Hey, you know, remember we have this new process and this is why it’s good, and this is why we’re all doing it.”
Well for many businesses including mine, tracking that or picking up on it, isn’t always easy. You have to rely on people, trust your people, train your people well, and have them go out and do their job in a way that really focuses on clients first.
So when we’re talking about technology, as you mentioned, what person is doing what role can create pockets or gaps in processes. So there really must be an orchestrated effort to link all of the customer service together, for instance in law, capturing that lead to collecting money. How do you look for those pockets, or address them when they come up using technology to fix that problem?
Yeah, so having trackable information that’s captured during the flow of a process, or the flow of a case through, you know new client to collection is just having all of the data in front of you and then making it a manager’s job … you know in my case it’ll be me or one of our principal attorneys who run each department. And it’s the manager’s job to make sure things are not falling through the cracks, but the technology makes it a lot easier. And having an advanced system like Salesforce and Litify allows the little breadcrumbs of data, the, this is now in this stage, it’s been in this stage for this many days, it makes it easy for the managers to say, “Okay, something’s not right. Something is gone amiss, let’s take a deeper look.”
But at the end of the day you have to trust your people to do what they’re supposed to do, have checks in there to make sure that it’s getting done, and then have competent management in place to see when those checks aren’t adding up to the final tally that you’re expecting.
What a great insight you have. I also have looked at how businesses grow, and naturally the complexity grows. And you really need to take stock in that. That’s where people and employees have to live within the processes, and they need to be as simplified and efficient as possible. I find that if people feel good at work, they’ll produce a higher quality work. So many businesses really get this wrong. How do you get that right?
Well, you know when you have great people, it’s easy to tell them that they’re doing a great job. And the more that you tell them that they’re doing a great job, the better job they do. And it’s a virtuous cycle. I mean it’s really as simple as picking good people, making them feel like they’re valued, empowering them to do their job better, taking their advice when they say here’s something that could be improved, and improving it because at the end of the day, it’s a job, we all show up and we do it. But if somebody can make your life a little bit easier, or if you can find a way to be more efficient, and you’re the right person that’s interested in that, every day’s going to be a better day than the last one was.
That’s a great point in our, not only customer feedback, but looking internal, getting the employee feedback. At Judd Shaw Injury Law, we talk to our frontline people and get their insights. Since they’re really talking to our customers every day, they’re reaching out to our clients, and they’re making the impression and delivering the service. The incredibly talented people that work with me are the people who can recommend ways that serve our customers better.
So really tapping into that energy is so important. And they really do want to help. Our team always want to get involved. How are you going about having your firm’s employee experience address that feedback so they can work their best?
Yeah, so one of the things that we do, and I know you guys are big on surveys, and I’m going to have to take a page out of your book on that. But one of the things we do is a 90 day review with our new employees. I find that people are experiencing the company fresh and have the most new ideas in the first couple of days. And 90 days gives them plenty of time to have made some notes and to say, “Hey, how does this work?” And to really poke the edges of the box to find out how the system works. And then in 90 days, a nice conversation to say, “How are you doing? How much do you enjoy working here? Are there any concerns? And how can we make this better for you?” Has been incredibly beneficial to us.
And you know we get more out of the people that have been here for 90 days than the people that have been here for three years. They just do the process and they’ve been doing it for years and it works for them, but you know, a fresh idea, or even somebody who comes from a different law firm who has other processes that they’ve worked through is just such a wealth of information. And when you ask somebody, “What do you think?” It empowers them to feel better about their job, and better about how they’re valued at their company, which goes back to our culture, and back to the virtual cycle of doing everything that we can to serve our clients.
Right. How true is that when you were talking about being too technology focused and not thinking about your own team, right, when your team can provide that feedback, particularly after 90 days, they have three months of being exposed to how you do things. And as you pointed out can bring ideas and recommendations, suggestions based on their prior work. And that may bring fresh ideas to your workplace.
I always use the analogy that there can be an apple in the fridge on the second shelf there, and I’ve seen it so many times that when I go look for it, I can’t see it anymore, and it’s right before my eyes. So those new employees are the ones that perhaps can even see things that we’re so used to, that we no longer are looking for or seeing.
How do you ensure that the employees who are giving you that insight feel honest about it, can be transparent with you, can give you open feedback without fear that that feedback will be taken negatively?
I think that it really comes down to interpersonal connection. I mean we’re a small firm, we’re 14 people total. So not very big, everybody knows each other. Back in the day we would have company events so that everybody would have chances to socialize with each other, but it really just comes down from your top down leadership. You know, what do you as a leader do when you see an issue? Do you blame your employee? Do you look for a solution?
And you know, when you have a consistent message from the top to say, “I’m listening to you, I’m here for you,” you know, “I’m here to make your job easier and to make you more effective,” a consistent message really does provide a level of comfort where you say, “Hey, this guy has said for 90 days that he wants to hear what I’m saying.” And for 90 days, whenever I’ve had a problem, I can give him a call and he’s immediately there helping me. And for 90 days, everybody’s been nothing but nice. So you know, after 90 days I fee comfortable enough that I can say, “Hey, I don’t know if this is the best way to do this, and I’ll get answer that’s either, wow, what a great idea, or have you thought about maybe this is why we do it?” And then we have a conversation. But those conversations are always great. And they’re very beneficial both for the employee to understand why our processes are the way that they are. And for us to see new ideas and be exposed to new things.
Well, I appreciate your humility about your firm being 14 team members, but sometimes that intimate, small number can be much more powerful than a larger firm when we’re talking about the ability to touch clients, the ability to deliver a high, first class customer service. And you know I know that even the poison dart frog, that’s one of the smallest little frogs in the jungle can kill you with one touch. So with 40 years of combined experience between those 14 members, you certainly are a real powerful firm.
You know, Josh, you’re chief operating officer of a great company. You’ve talked a lot about your own team, your culture, and how you’re using technology to combine both the internal, but external experience. And it’s important when leading employees, right? Acknowledging that leaders don’t have all the answers, and being transparent, and being authentic for us, harnesses all the talent around us.
Traditional ways of leading are really less relevant using technology, which is we discuss really changes the way employees perform at their jobs, right? So how do you see leadership in the modern workplace?
I see leadership in the modern workplace about supporting your team, empowering them to do things, and really to be a servant leader. To make your job as a manager, as a leader, making the people below your lives easier and more efficient. When people see you as a leader say, “I’m going to bend over backwards to make it so that your work is easier.” They say, “This is a guy who I’ll go to bat for. You know, when I have a problem, he’s interested in fixing it.”
And that type of servant leadership really just plays into every aspect of what we do. You know, we support our employees trying to grow, and take on new skills. We’ve had a book club at times, you know back when we all could meet together and have lunch together on motivational books, and self improvement stuff, because at the end of the day, none of us are perfect. And admission of that from your leader is very powerful to say, “I make mistakes too, and we’re going to fix them together. So when you make mistakes, we’re going to fix them together because we’re a team.”
Yeah, I would encourage any businesses to apply the ideas of a book club, or suggestions on recommended books. At our firm, at Judd Shaw Injury Law we have our own book club, but it is a virtual bookshelf. And some of my best ideas that I’ve implemented in the firm regarding either culture or customer service, or delivering professional, have come from reading books out there. And some are really great. And instead of holding all of that knowledge inside and making it seem like I am clairvoyant, or the brightest in the bunch, it really is, it just comes from my picking up those ideas. And so we put that out there to our team. We let them know what books we’re reading. We provide benefits for reading these books and getting the same ideas, and more importantly, where they come from. And that in part really is building on their professional journey and growth.
In my last podcast I discussed empathy, right? I find it that it is so important. And that’s both also with your own employees and with your customers. That doctor who had used empathy oftentimes was with his own patients. How are you applying that with your team?
I mean, we hire for nice. That’s our number one criteria when we bring someone in, we’re looking for just nice people who you feel comfortable talking with. And that kind of also hires for empathy as well. The people that we have on our team are in the business of helping the people. Personal injury gets a bad rap where we’ve gotten the term ambulance chasers somewhere along the way, but at the end of the day, when we get a client, we understand that they are scared, hurt, confused, and they don’t know what’s going to happen next.
So we see it as our job to guide them through the process, and to understand that they are experiencing all of those emotions. And we take pride in the fact that we help guide them. That’s kind of our reason for doing this is to help people and to get them through these trying times. So the empathy really just builds on the fact that we’ve got nice people who have a great mission of helping people, helping them through a difficult chapter of their life. And one plus one equals a very empathetic two.
Yeah, what a great point Josh. In our office, we believe strongly that there are enough accidents out there unfortunately. There are plenty of people who get involved in accidents at no fault of their own, and are significantly injured in which their lives change. But I think the ambulance chaser, and I don’t know the full history behind it, comes up with the idea that lawyers are chasing those cases. They want people to be injured so that they can get more business. But with so many accidents, we look at the community to reduce that in terms of providing car seats so that children are buckled properly, messages to the public, free services, consultations. Our firm looks to reduce accidents, not increase them.
And I know Josh, that your firm stands for the same thing. And so for you and your firm, the idea that you’re not an ambulance chaser is because you’re offering such great customer service, and those clients once again become your cheerleaders, you don’t have to chase those cases. They ultimately come to you.
Absolutely. You know, as you said, there are plenty of accidents in the world, and there’re no lawyers out there putting down caltrops trying spike people’s tires. And there’s actually a long history of the plaintiffs bar creating public awareness about dangerous and defective products, and really making everybody safer through punishing companies that are negligent you know through very expensive lawsuits. And you know, depending on your affiliate, you might feel one way or another about it. But at the end of the day, if somebody gets hurt through no fault of their own, they shouldn’t be required or capped in what they can receive. It should be the responsible party who has to make things right.
So we are a strong proponent of that. And I know you are as well. And it just comes through. People hear that, they know that somebody’s fighting for their side of it, and people find you when they know that you’ve got their back.
Right, it brings integrity to the business. Josh, what would you recommend lastly, to any business using technology as it applies to customer service. What is the best way to do that? Because throughout the podcast, I’m really hearing that technology, plus good people equals excellent service. How do you go about recommending, or your opinion as to what all businesses should do to make that formula right?
Well, I mean you’ve got the formula. Attention to the detail on the clients and having the right people brings out great processes and great technology. So as long as you’re remembering that you have to take care of your clients first and foremost, but you also have to take care of your people. And anytime you put a process in that takes care of one side, but not the other, there’s an opportunity for improvement.
And you know, when you find the process that does both, then you know you’ve hit it on the nail on the head. So keeping your people in mind as much as you keep your clients in mind will keep them happy, will keep your culture good, will keep them following processes and adopting new technology.
So you know, the client’s always in mind. I know that the client’s always right, and we always remember that, but we also have to remember the people that are actually talking to the clients and what their needs are and their hopes and their dreams and their development, and how we can make them more productive and more happy at their job because ultimately that’ll make the clients happier and make the management happier too.
Okay. So Josh, my last guest, Dr. Glen Fleischhacker has an identical twin. They both went to the same college. They went to the same medical school, and they even practiced in the same discipline. Glen told me that his wife thinks he’s the best looking of the two. So I have to ask, you work with your brother at the same firm. Who’s smarter?
Well, I’m going to say that I have a degree in physics, so I’ll lean on that one for this answer. But my brother does have a very keen business mind, so I’m really happy to be on the same team as him, and not competing with him.
Sounds like one is a great COO, and another one is a great lawyer.
He’s actually even better than a lawyer. He’s a great CEO, you know vision, where we’re going next, and just kind of the big picture, where sometimes for me, I enjoy being in the leads of the process of the people more, and sometimes I don’t get my head into the clouds to come up with the next big idea. So we work in tandem well.
That’s such a brotherly answer. I’ll take it as you’re smarter. Josh, you’ve been really great. For the listeners once again, what is the best way to contact you if they have any questions or comments?
Yeah. Feel free to reach out to me. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org, that’s J-K-W-A-R-T-L-E-R @ K-M-F-I-R-M.COM
Always looking to hear good feedback, or bad feedback, bad feedback is just an opportunity for growth. So please reach out.
Kwartler Manus, awesome accident attorneys, great firm, great people. Thank you so much for talking with me today. Check them out at KMINJURYLAWYERS.COM, that’s, kminjurylawyers.com.
And you can always contact me and let me know about what topic interest you with customer service. And I welcome your comments and feedback. E-mail me at email@example.com
And remember to ask for some merch with our company. So you get some swag,
I’m Judd Shaw, and this was The Judd Shaw Way.
🎙️ Featured Guest 🎙️
Name: Josh Kwartler
Short Bio: Josh Kwartler is the Chief Operating Officer of Kwartler Manus, LLC. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from Rutgers School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Delaware. At Kwartler Manus, LLC, Josh creates processes that enable the company to provide superior customer service and efficiently utilize new and emerging technologies.
Company: Kwartler Manus, LLC
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