Keeping clients happy is essential to running a successful solo practice. These great tips can help ensure you’re providing the best customer service in your law firm.
The number one thing solo attorneys constantly worry about is where they’re getting their next piece of business.
Whether it’s from referrals or attracting new prospects, getting new clients as a solo lawyer is tough. But what about once you have clients? This is where customer service comes into play and truly sets the foundation for a successful law practice. In fact, keeping your clients happy may be the key to never worrying about new business.
How you treat your clients will become a defining part of your reputation, and your current clients can ultimately become some of your biggest brand ambassadors. Keeping them happy means increasing the likelihood they’ll refer you to their network.
Here are some tips to make sure you always keep your clients happy:
Ask any experienced attorney what they do to keep clients happy, and almost all of them will say they maintain good communication.
Communication is a process, and attorneys must remain consistent in the frequency and style of their communication. It’s important to carefully review your communication habits and always think of ways you can improve communication with your clients.
Keep in mind that your preferred method of communicating might not work for everyone so you must take the time to tailor your communication according to your client’s preferences. For example, one client might want communication weekly while another might want it daily. Some clients would rather communicate by phone, and some even request in-person meetings for everything. Be sure to embrace your client’s communication preferences so you can forge a better relationship with them.
Also, remember the importance of following up. When a client reaches out, always follow up as soon as you get the message. If you cannot answer their question immediately, let them know you are aware they have reached out and give them a time frame for when they can expect to hear back from you.
You want clients to feel as if they are your priority. Updating your clients on their case, even if there is nothing important to report, will make them feel valued. Consistent communication will keep your clients happy because they’ll feel reassured and they’ll know they can rely on you to keep them informed.
Handle money matters immediately
Costs and billing issues are some of the most sensitive topics when it comes to legal matters. From the beginning, you should have a clear outline of your costs to avoid any confusion and ensure your client knows what he or she is getting into financially.
Once the client has agreed to the fees, remember to update them on costs that arise throughout their case. Also, make sure you have an adequate billing system in place and keep your invoicing as simple as possible to prevent potential confusion.
Own your mistakes
As in any firm, mistakes can happen in solo law practices. Whether it’s from miscommunication or administrative errors, everyone knows it’s how we handle our mistakes that really matters.
The best way to handle mistakes with a client is to simply admit it and apologize. Never underestimate your client’s capacity for being understanding. They do not expect you to be perfect.
In fact, it’s very likely your clients may even respect you more for owning up to your mistakes. However, what they definitely won’t appreciate are lies or excuses.
Clients want to know that you care more about your relationship with them than your own pride. Owning a mistake demonstrates humility, while denying a mistake is often a sign of arrogance. No one wants to work with someone who can’t admit when they’re wrong.
Remember to always apologize after admitting you’ve made a mistake. Apologies hold a lot of power for both you and your client. If done sincerely, a good apology can mitigate any of the negative emotions your client may have felt because of the mistake since it shows how much you respect them.
Client appreciation is critical for keeping clients happy. Studies show that 68% of customers leave a business relationship because of a perceived indifference on the part of the company. The same can happen in an attorney-client relationship. If you don’t show your client you care, then you risk losing them to your competitors. Showing appreciation not only keeps your clients happy, but it also creates loyalty.
Appreciation doesn’t always mean going out and buying gifts. It simply means treating clients like human beings and not numbers. Show your clients you care and be sincere. You can do this by:
- Remembering their name
- Taking an interest in their lives
- Recalling the personal details they’ve shared with you
- Letting them vent about their case
- Keeping your promises to them
- Asking them for feedback
Remember to check in with clients even after you’ve finished representing them in a case. Touching base with a former client is as easy as a phone call, email or even a LinkedIn message. If you want to go above and beyond, you can send clients handwritten thank you notes for using your legal services.
Additionally, you should never forget to acknowledge when a client has given you a referral. Consider sending them a small gift as a token of your appreciation for sending you new business. Even if the referral doesn’t work out, you should thank your client for thinking of you.
It can sometimes be easier to keep a client happy if they are easy to work with and have reasonable expectations, which is why you need to be selective about who you represent.
Many solos fall into the trap of thinking they HAVE to represent every person that comes to them, but you have to keep your firm’s reputation in mind. You never want to put yourself in a position where you know your client is going to be impossible to please. If a client doesn’t seem like a good fit for your practice, then you have the option of declining.
As solo attorneys, it can be easy to forget just how important customer service is to our image and referral potential. Your clients are an extension of your brand. Treat them as such, and you will excel in building a successful law practice with a positive reputation and reliable referral network.