Building a book of good law firm 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 eight 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 matter. Clients are looking to you for solutions to their situations, 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 matters when they happen. Does this mean you must be available on every 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 legal professional complaints and lawyer discipline.
3. Train Your Staff
Anyone who contacts your clients – administrative assistants, receptionists, paralegals, lawyers – 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 to help them succeed. Their motivation and satisfaction will be completely transparent to your clients.
4. Delegate Administrative Tasks
Clients want your time spent with them, not your time spent on hours of administrative tasks. Make sure your firm is adequately staffed to handle a growing matter 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 matters of varying degrees of difficulty. Even matters that may seem like a breeze to you may be very daunting, even drastic or life-changing, to them. Generally speaking, people seek legal help when something very important in their life is happening and need advice or protection. Does this mean you need a PhD in psychology to be a practising lawyer? 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 quickest 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 comprehensively 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 may believe, collecting is actually not difficult. Correctly document the work done and provide complete visibility to your clients, who will honour their commitments for compensation. By doing this, you can bill your clients timely. Remember that the sooner you invoice your clients, the sooner you receive your fees.
7. Get Organised
Start by understanding that paper is the fastest way to disrupt even the most simple tasks. Notes get lost, physical files are challenging to share simultaneously physically, 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 matters, including documents, emails, meetings, deadlines and calls, in one centralised location.
8. Embrace Technology
The past two years have taught us that technology is the legal industry’s future. More and more meetings 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 matters are and are not worth pursuing, knowing what hours are billable and tracking all billable and non-billable hours. When selecting technology, ensure that you are implementing a future-proof solution.
Focusing on these eight simple steps will help you build and maintain good relationships with happy clients.