You have worked long and hard to get a Client for your practice, but keeping them or more importantly turning them into repeat or referral generators requires an equal amount of planning and action.
If you are to grow your practice, it is important that you understand what makes a Client emotionally and logically thrilled with the service you perform.
Having previously said how important it is to build Client loyalty, here are 4 sure ways to screw it up.
1) Assume expectations are not the most important factor when a Client evaluates what you have done for them. Setting and then meeting expectations is almost 100% of the secret of success with Clients. Where many Lawyers get into trouble is overpromising or improperly conveying realistic expectations.
We have all heard, “Under promise and Over deliver”, but in reality, many Lawyers, perhaps because of the competition fail to convey realistic expectations. Or if what happens many times is that the Client hears what they want to hear and the Lawyer does not pick up on this. As a Lawyer, you need to make sure a client understand what you may be able to do for them, what you may not be able to do for them and if possible put this in writing. Aside from keeping the client happy you will also make your Malpractice carrier very happy.
This is especially true in areas where you have to prepare documents for a client. Make sure that you do not promise to have something done by a certain date and then fail to deliver. It is so much better to promise a date that you know you can deliver by and then deliver earlier. Once you fail to deliver for a Client you may not get a second chance.
Turn away business you can’t deliver on before ruining your reputation and again always spell out exactly what is expected of all parties to any engagement. If you can’t handle the business, make sure you have a referral partner that can help you out.
2) Assume your receptionist, secretary and paralegal are not part of your marketing department. Every time your receptionist, secretary or paralegal comes into contact with a Client they are marketing, You need to train them on how to properly deal with your Clients. After all, most Clients will have more contact with them than they will with you. You need to make sure they understand just how valuable they can be in keeping Clients and getting Clients to refer other Clients. They need to be your ambassadors. I once saw a sign on a receptionist desk that said ” Director of First Impression” and that is exactly what she was.
Remember these people are an extension of you and your firm, make sure they know that and that you appreciate what they do for you.
3) ASSUME A CLIENT WILL TELL YOU WHEN SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT.
There are some people that loved to point out problems or mistakes, but most people would rather not. They simply do not want a confrontation. Most unhappy Clients will simply walk away silently if they don’t get the experience they expected or simply don’t understand something about doing business with you.
It is essential that you create opportunities for feedback and encourage clients to reveal anything they think is a flaw. Making it safe and easy to ask for help is one way to save client relationships that otherwise would have faded a way.
One great way to get Client feedback is through a survey. This should be done immediately at the conclusion of a matter. If it is an ongoing relationship then a personal meeting say over lunch or breakfast may be appropriate and by all means make sure the client knows they will not be billed for your time.
4) ASSUME THEY WILL CALL WHEN THEY NEED SOMETHING ELSE.
Have you ever had this thought? Gosh I wonder whatever happened to Tom Jackson, he used to be one of our best Clients and he would call us all the time and send us Clients. Well, Tom was last seen down at your competitor’s Client appreciation BBQ.
We have all heard “out of sight, out of mind, well that applies to marketing your Law Firm. If you are not communicating and staying in touch with your Clients, both your present and past Clients, you may find that they may be taking their business to your competitors. I say, present Clients because just because they may have engaged you to represent them in a matter, this does not mean that they have not taken other matters to other Law Firms. If you are working on a matter for a Client make sure you are communicating and by communicating I mean not just sending them a monthly bill.
If your Firm has a newsletter, which it should, make sure your present and past Clients are getting a copy.
If your Firm is the beneficiary of some good publicity make sure your present and past Clients know about it.
One sure way to keep on the ” Top of Clients Minds” is to send handwritten notes. I spoke about this in a previous Article… “Thank You Marketing” and nothing should prevent you from just sending a handwritten Note, letting your Clients know you are thinking about them.
In this Article, I have talked about sure ways to lose Clients, so what is stopping you from taking action to put in systems that will prevent the loss of Clients and bring back ones that may have strayed.
Go back and re-read this Article and pick out at least 2 things you can start doing right away such as teaching your staff how to market for you, after all, if you do not have Clients, they will be out of work. Draft a “How did we do form” and begin to use it. Make an effort to re-establish contact with former Clients by sending them a Handwritten Note. Let this just be a start and you will see how just doing these simple things can bring you, Clients.
James E. Thompson, JD is the President of Lawyers Marketing Resource a company dedicated to helping lawyers grow their practice. You can contact him at jet@lawyersmarketing resource.com.
He is the author of “Why Lawyers Fail to Get the Referrals they Deserve and Need to Grow Their Practice and What They Can Do About It” and “Why Most Lawyers FAIL at Getting Referrals from Other Lawyers and How to Change That” If you would like an ebook copy of either or both books visit his web site: www.lawyersmarketingresource.com and you will find instructions on how to get the books