Building a book of good clients is essential. Keeping those clients happy and referring others is even more critical. Yet, with today’s ever-increasing challenges, constant fluctuations and the overpowering need to be everywhere all the time, how do you keep satisfied customers? Here are 8 easy steps that you can start today.
1. Set and Exceed Expectations
Be open and honest with your clients at the onset about all the potential outcomes of the case. Clients are looking to you for solutions to their situation, but they do need to understand what is and isn’t possible. Setting unrealistic expectations to give your clients hope will only hurt them, and you, in the long term.
2. Communicate with Clients
Clients want to be kept abreast of any changes or updates to their cases when they happen. Does this mean that you need to be available on every possible platform 24/7? No. Learn your clients’ communication preferences upfront and develop a strategy to keep them informed. Find a secure method for sharing updates and sensitive information including signed documents and emails. Equally important, failure to communicate effectively with clients is one of the top reasons for bar complaints and attorney discipline.
3. Train Your Staff
Anyone that comes in contact with your clients – administrative assistants, receptionists, paralegals, attorneys – must have customer service training, including how to address difficult situations. Investing in your firm must start with investing in your team. Provide coaching, training, mentoring and tools that can help them be successful. Their motivation and satisfaction will be completely transparent to your clients.
4. Delegate Administrative Task
Clients want your time spent with them, not your time spent in hours of administrative tasks. Make sure your firm is adequately staffed to handle a growing case load and armed with the right tools to get things done. Implementing the right technology will keep your staff productive and your firm profitable.
5. Practice Empathy
Clients come to you for help with cases of varying degrees of difficulty. Even cases that may seem like a breeze to you may be very daunting, even drastic or life-changing, to them. Generally speaking, people seek attorneys when something very important in their life is happening and they need advice or protection. Does this mean you need a PhD in psychology to be a practicing attorney? Of course not! It’s just simple compassion and understanding, “Walk a mile in another man’s shoes”, as the saying goes.
6. Bill Correctly
And transparently! One of the fastest ways to lose a client is to overbill them and not have the documentation to support it. One of the fastest ways to lose money is to not bill properly for those billable hours that you work. Spreadsheets may be great for adding numbers, but they don’t fully track all the hours actually worked and they provide no transparency on all the tasks that were performed on your client’s behalf. Contrary to what some many believe, collecting is actually not difficult. Correctly document the work done and provide complete visibility to your clients and they will honor their commitments for compensation. By doing this, you can bill your clients timely. Remember the sooner you invoice your clients, the sooner you receive your fees.
7. Get Organized
Start by understanding that paper is the fastest way to disrupt even the most simple tasks. Notes get lost, physical files are difficult to physically share simultaneously and missed messages may mean lost potential clients. Missed deadlines can, of course, be lethal. Develop a system that tracks all matters associated with your cases including documents, emails, meetings, deadlines and calls in one centralized location.
8. Embrace Technology
One thing the past two years has taught us is that technology is the future for the legal industry. More than 50% of states have some form of e-filing system. More and more meetings and hearings that moved online during the pandemic are still being held online. Technology enables us to be more productive, giving us back more hours in the day. Technology provides complete transparency for our clients, so they know what work has been completed and what waits on the road ahead. The right technology also helps you to be more profitable, capturing all the time spent on a matter, seeing what cases are and are not worth pursuing, knowing what hours are billable and tracking all billable and non-billable hours. When selecting technology, make sure that you are implementing a solution that is future proof.
Focusing on these 8 simple steps will help you build and maintain good relationships with happy clients.