In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, Joleena Louis discusses issues she had with client communication in her solo practice and the steps she took to improve.
One of the primary complaints clients have about their attorneys is lack of communication. They are paying for our services and want to feel like their cases are important to us.
While I know good communication will increase client retention and satisfaction, it can sometimes be difficult to balance with the day-to-day demands of running my own law practice. Being a solo without a secretary or receptionist has made staying on top of communication with clients even more challenging.
When coming up with goals for 2016, I encourage other solos to consider evaluating their strategy for effective client communication.
These steps have helped me keep my clients happy:
Update clients about their case more frequently
One of the easiest ways to keep clients happy is to keep them updated on their case. Call them before they call you.
This is something I’ve struggled with in the past because I would not call if I didn’t have anything new to report. I didn’t consider how keeping in touch even when there are no new developments can provide comfort to my clients. I realized that, while I am thinking about many cases, they are only thinking about one.One of the easiest ways to keep clients happy is to keep them updated on their case. Click To Tweet
When a client doesn’t get updates it becomes easy for them to get worried. This is how better communication on my part can provide reassurance to my clients and improve our relationship. Clients appreciate that I am thinking of them and keeping in contact.
Systematizing this process is the best way to keep yourself disciplined about keeping up sending client updates. A great resource is the California Client Communications Manual: Sample Letters and Forms: 2015 Update, which has several form case-status and other letters.
Return phone calls
As a solo attorney, I often find that I am too busy to always return phone calls on the same day. Since I don’t have a receptionist, I now tell my clients to text or email me so we can schedule a call.
Often I’m in court and can’t answer the phone, but I can respond to an email. This works really well for me because it prevents phone tag, and I can schedule a time to talk to them when I can give them undivided attention.
Respond to emails right away
It’s easy to forget about a client email, but making the effort to respond immediately will show your clients that you consider them a priority.
In addition to responding right away, I try to avoid replying with a dismissive one-liner, such as “Got it – I’ll get back to you later.” Even when I can’t give a detailed response, I let my client know their email was received and give them a time frame for when they can expect to hear back from me.
Learn how your clients communicate best
I prefer to communicate through text, email or my client portal. This allows me to have a record of what was said, and it’s generally more convenient for me.
However, my preferred method of communicating does not work for all clients. Some of my clients would rather communicate by phone, and some even prefer not to rely heavily on technology for communication and request in-person meetings for everything.My preferred method of communicating does not work for all clients. Click To Tweet
By figuring out what makes them comfortable and then managing expectations for that type of communication, all parties will be happy.