What kinds of things make clients mad. Here are just a few:

  • Not returning phone calls,
  • Not treating them with respect,
  • Failure to admit a screw up (or worse blaming it on them),
  • Missing deadlines,
  • Not keeping them informed (i.e., treating them like mushrooms), and
  • Not understanding their business.

I agree with Trey Ryder, that clients would be more understanding, if you inform them as to how their matter will be handled. As he points out in his recent newsletter (free copy available on his site), clients don’t realize how busy lawyers can get. Nor do they understand why lawyers can’t or don’t communicate with them as they wish, whether it be returning phone calls promptly or emails. THAT is the lawyer’s fault. You should enlighten clients upfront how you will handle their case/transaction and the process for keeping in touch with them.

In doing so, you can

“…overcome any potential negative feelings because you (1) addressed the subject before prospects raise it, (2) ask for your prospects understanding (in advance), and (3) suggested an alternative way to handling….(phone calls, status reports, etc.).”

So, inform clients at the beginning of a matter how things will be handled, and regularly seek feedback as to how you are doing. You’ll be surprised how understanding (and forgiving) clients can be.