Greeting a client in an NYC shared office space is everything in first impressions. Here are some easy tips on how to succeed at reception.
It is astonishing when attorneys have less than adequate interactions with clients at reception, but this is something that is seen all too often in an NYC shared office space.
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.
The back-story of of the attorney-client relationship is often never known by onlookers and we may even be seeing misplaced resentments from a different client interaction.
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.
Taking all your anger and resentments into a client interaction is wildly inappropriate, even if your entire day has been negative and frustrating. There’s just no excuse, and doing so will not only set the tone for the meeting, it will make your client feel uncomfortable and confused.
It’s helpful to take a moment and breathe. This may sound cliche, but doing this will help you let go of any unnecessary emotions and reboost your mentality.
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.
Additionally, body language experts tell us a smile is indicative of confidence, friendliness, trustworthiness, and openness. These traits are important to epitomize as an attorney.
2. Make a good first impression.
Walk into reception of your NYC shared office space with an upbeat demeanor and refer to the client by his or her name. After establishing their acknowledgement, smile and then give 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.
Direct eye contact is not only crucial to pre-meeting etiquette, it is a useful tool in establishing respect in the client and shows you are confident. Not doing so can be taken as disrespect and even a lack of confidence on your end.
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.
Immediate conversation between the attorney and client helps to lessen tension. It is common for clients to be nervous or weary when meeting with attorneys, especially those who are first-timers. Anxiety will likely decrease once the client is able to converse and feel a connection.
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.
Conversation can be both difficult or easy to achieve depending on the situation, but the best way to establish it is by discussing something other than the purpose of the meeting. You may be able to bring up the client’s family, current events, or even something as mundane as the weather. Even a bad traffic experience can help start the conversation.
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.
Never assume that the client will follow you to the office when you exit reception. Clients may not always be aware that you want them to follow you and it is best to direct them to the desired location.
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 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.