How you greet a client in an NYC shared office space may be more important than you think. Here are some helpful tips that will leave your clients with a good first impression.
It would surprise you at how often we witness attorneys in our NYC shared office space have terrible interactions with clients when greeting them at reception.
It’s fairly common for an attorney to arrive in reception as much as 45-minutes late, barely make eye contact, greet the client with a frown, turn and walk away (expecting the client to follow) without so much as a word of instruction.
It is incredibly difficult to understand and one can only imagine that it sets a tone for discomfort for the rest of the interaction. Once this happens, it may be impossible for the attorney to recover because the client may be offended or even angry. This could potentially cause the client to seek out a competitor that treats him or her with more respect.
Of course, we never know the back-story of the attorney-client relationship, or that we may be witnessing misplaced frustration from a different client or adversary.
When it boils down to it, law is a service profession and if clients are paying for a service with their money, they expect and deserve to be treated with the utmost respect. That should not be too hard to comprehend.
Here are 5 simple tips that you can use to improve your interactions with clients at reception.
1. Prepare yourself before you walk into reception, and smile.
If you have had a busy or frustrating day, do not take all your emotional baggage to the next client interaction. It will never be helpful and will always confuse the client thus making them uncomfortable. When you walk to reception, take a moment to breathe out your frustrations and reset your mind so the energy you give off is not negative.
Your client trusts you to handle their sensitive personal and business affairs. That deserves your undivided attention, so give it to them.
Finally, before you walk into reception, smile. Even if you have to force yourself.
Even a fake smile releases endorphins that help you to relax which essentially changes your mood to feel more comfortable. If your day has been rough, doing this will help you leave that negativity behind.
Plus, body language experts tell us that those who smile often appear confident, friendly, trustworthy, and open. Important traits to convey if you’re an attorney.
2. Make a good first impression.
Step into the reception area of your NYC shared office space, call the client by name, smile, make eye contact and give them a firm handshake.
As Dale Carnegie says in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, “a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” People love to hear the sound of their own name. Use it to your advantage.
Using adequate eye contact with the client is crucial when greeting a client before your actual meeting. If you do this it shows that not only are you confident, but you show an interest in the person. On the other hand, if you do not establish eye contact, it may demonstrate apathy and/or weakness.
A firm handshake is one of those non-verbal forms of communication that conveys professionalism and confidence. Clients expect a handshake and failing to give one casts a negative aspersion about the attorney’s personal demeanor. If you’re not sure about your handshake, practice with someone you trust (we’ll practice with you). Something between a vice and a limp noodle is fine.
3. Get the client talking right away.
If you get your client to start talking as soon as possible, it lessens the tension. Clients tend be quite nervous about meeting with attorneys, especially the first-timers. Any anxiety that is lingering will likely go away once the client starts speaking.
Whether you are trying to close a new piece of business or get information from a client about their case, it will be easier to achieve the objective of the meeting with a client who is less guarded.
In order to achieve conversation with the client, it is important to discuss something other than the subject matter of the meeting. If you know the client well, perhaps a topic like their family, their geographical area, or even a sports team can do the trick. Even something as mundane as the weather or the traffic will help in breaking the tension.
Whatever the topic, pick something that interests them and/or is easy for them to talk about.
But try to stay away from questions like: “How are you doing?” That’s too much of an open ended question that may result in you getting a very negative answer, thereby setting the wrong tone for your meeting.
4. Ask if they would like a beverage.
As part of your NYC law firm office space sublease, the reception staff may offer your client water or coffee (we do this at Law Firm Suites). Even if this is the case, if you notice your client does not have a beverage, always offer one. It’s a token gesture that demonstrates that you will take care of their needs. It will also make your client feel more welcome and may settle their fears about meeting with an attorney.
5. Kindly ask for them to follow you to your office/conference room.
This may seem simple, but always tell the client where you are going and direct them to the location. Don’t assume that the client will just follow you.
Simply say, “Mr. Client, we are going to be meeting in a conference room, it’s just down the hall, why don’t you follow me, OK?” Then wait for them to start moving with you.
Doing this will let the client know that you are in command of the meeting, and that they can trust you to lead them.
It’s a subtle but important step.
Sometimes it’s the small things, that should be obvious, that can set one attorney apart from his or her competition. Having a great interaction with a client at reception is such an easy thing to do – with all upside.
You will set a better tone for your meetings that will help you close more prospective clients or keep existing clients happy. The end result: more money in your pocket.