My post of last week entitled “Everything You Do as a Lawyer is Marketing” came about as a result of an article on "customer service" from a lawyer’s perspective by Wendy Werner in this month’s Law Practice Today. Although I went off on a tangent of my own based on her article, I wanted to come back to her main points, since I thought they were right on.
Accordingly, what she had to say about customer (client) service follows using her headings (with my usual editorial comments):
- Getting in Your Client’s Shoes – most likely, whether the client is an individual or business, there is “great anxiety” on their part, and a lack of awareness about your services and the costs (Thus, understanding and patience would be key virtues to bring into play here),
- First Contact – Wendy correctly points out that a firm can’t “overestimate” the importance of the receptionist’s impact on a caller’s first impression (I have addressed the issue of paying your receptionist well before),
- Setting the Course – spending the time upfront to fully explain the firm’s “practices and procedures” (as well as fully understanding the client’s problems and concerns) is time well spent, even if time consuming. As Wendy accurately states, it is likely to improve client retention in the long run,
- Managing Client Expectations – clients are unlikely to understand the Army’s motto of “hurry up and wait” also applies to the legal industry, so an explanation would be worthwhile (further, it would be advisable to find out what the client’s expectations are regarding how and how often they want a status report, copies of documents, best method of communications, etc.), and
- Client Frustrations – high on the client’s list is unreturned phone calls, and unfathomable legalese (talking in English with explanation of legal terms is solution to this common problem, but more important, is making sure that communications – whether by letter, e-mail or phone – are returned promptly).
Thanks again, Wendy.