Providing excellent service to your clients is the best law firm marketing there is. Unfortunately, too many law firms do not provide quality client service. At least not the kind of service that clients want.
So what is excellent client service and how do you provide it? Here are some thoughts from people that know what they’re talking about:
So what is outstanding service? Here are the five fingers on the hand: incredible responsiveness, accessibility, excellent communication in the manner the client has pre-selected, a thorough understanding of the client’s world, goals and business and the personalization of the service. I like to call this last one “value added services.” Clients will not complain about hourly rates, or look to find a new firm if these items are all in place and you as their lawyer are constantly looking for ways to deliver value to them beyond the legal services being delivered.
Success is a byproduct of great client service and genuine concern about the clients’ well-being, not the other way around.
12 Rules of Client Service:
- Represent only clients you like.
- The client is the main event.
- Make sure everyone in your firm knows the client is the main event.
- Deliver legal work that changes the way clients think about lawyers.
- Over-communicate: bombard, copy and confirm.
- When you work, you are marketing.
- Know the client.
- Think like the client–help control costs.
- Be there for clients–24/7.
- Be accurate, thorough and timely–but not perfect.
- Treat each co-worker like he or she is your best client.
- Have fun.
The law is a service profession. We sell our time and effort to clients who require them. Here’s a radical notion: make the effort to be a better lawyer, provide better client service, fulfill your clients needs. Do so at a cost commensurate with your benefit.
Being a cheap lawyer makes you, well, cheap. Providing value makes you valuable to your clients. Give your clients everything you’ve got. Whether it’s a big case or a really itty-bitty case, treat every client as if he’s your only client. All aspects of excellent client service must be part of the experience that you provide every client.
No, every client will not be thrilled, no matter what you do. Outcomes remain problematic, since they are outside your control. But your clients will know that you’ve done both everything you can, and that your work was superlative, even if the outcome is ugly. It’s all we can do, but it’s what we must do.
For some lawyers, particularly new solos, serving clients isn’t as much of a problem as figuring out how to avoid falling into what I have termed “the paradox of client service,” the fact that we serve clients, but they are not our masters. In the early years of my practice, I felt this tension between feeling like I’m a slave to my client while trying to stay in charge. Originally, I chalked it up to a my personality, but now I wonder whether many new lawyers are predisposed to becoming slaves to clients because that’s the role we play in law school (performing on command to the Socratic method) and at firms.
- Have them at hello - First impressions carry outsize importance because of how memory works.
- Hire sweethearts - Evaluate your hires’ client service skills before their job skills.
- Be great on the phone - As soon as the telephone rings three times, you are beginning to build distrust in your callers.
- Keep them pumped – Consistent service is, by definition, repetitious. Do the right thing. Then do it again, ad infinitum.
- Quantify their love – Make time to to track and analyze client feedback.
- Make it right – resolving client complaints is among the best ways to earn loyalty.
- Have them at goodbye - Make sure the last moment they are with you is not paying you. What you want them to remember is how much you value and appreciate them as a client.
To me, providing excellent service has to be a culture, a way of doing things. It has to be such a part of everything that you do that it’s habitual, reflexive, and instinctual. And even thought it ought to be second-nature, it should also be analyzed, consciously reflected upon, and not taken for granted. Providing excellent service is part talent, part experience, and largely commitment.
What does providing excellent client service mean to you? Are clients, both your own and those of other, receiving excellent service from the legal profession? What have you found helps you to provide the best service that you can?