I recently wrote about how lawyers can improve their public image. Many attorneys are in denial that the public at large, and perhaps even their own clients, do not hold them in the highest regard.
When was the last time one of your clients thanked you? If you cannot answer that within five seconds, here are some tips for improving your client relationships.
Manage expectations from the outset
In many ways, client feedback is results driven. If you get them acquitted, or get them the amount of damages they were seeking, you will probably receive a very generous thank you.
Part of that “success,” however, is based on what the clients expectations were after meeting with you. Lawyers cannot (and should not) promise certain results. That said, attorneys should always lay out the possible outcomes and explain what is a more likely outcome.
That does not mean you should create low expectations, which therefore nearly guarantees that you will exceed them and make yourself look good. But it does mean that you should avoid promising miracles and should always discuss all of the possible outcomes—including the bad ones. That will go a long way towards building a strong relationship with your client.
Expectations also includes the so-called little things—like how often you will contact your clients regarding their case and how quickly you return phone calls. Even if you get a great outcome, these “little things” make a big impact on clients.
Ask for feedback
When I close a file and end an attorney-client relationship I ask my clients if they were happy with my service. If they are in my office, I will ask them face to face. Otherwise, I will call them (for certain clients I send an e-mail if that’s how they prefer to communicate).
The majority of the time, I get lots of positive feedback. The majority of the time, I believe my clients, because I make an extremely conscious effort to get to know my clients and build strong relationships with them. Because of those bonds, I believe them when they say good things.
Not only is the feedback important, the fact that I know I will ask them that question helps motivate me to work extra hard to create strong client relationships. That’s not my main motivation, but it is extra motivator.
Getting thanked is a great feeling—make sure you are taking the right steps to satisfy your clients.