Client relationships are the backbone of successful law practices. With healthy client relationships, your practice is better protected against ethics complaints. With healthy and professionally friendly client relationships, you still get a level of protection against complaints along with an added benefit: the potential of creating a network of referrals. When clients enjoy doing business with you, they’re more likely to refer their friends, family members, and colleagues. Here are X easy to implement ways you can build better client relationships!
Review Your Client Intake Process
How easy is your client intake process? Yes, it’s imperative for you to get certain information. However, it’s important to make sure that the process works well for you, your office staff, and for new clients. Consider using law practice management software that allows new clients to complete some or all of the intake process online before their appointment. For people who may need help completing the forms, be ready to help.
Meeting Your Client? Clear Your Desk
Did you know that clearing your desk of all other matters before your meeting can help build a better client relationship? It’s true! Not only does it show your client that you protect client confidentiality by ensuring that your work is properly secured away, it also tells them that this scheduled time is all about them and their needs. It also helps you keep your mind from wandering as you see other open matters on your desk.
Use Active Listening
Active listening is an often overlooked skill, but it’s important because it helps build trust. The more your clients trust you, the more they will divulge about their needs and the facts surrounding their case. Active listening involves the following steps:
- Make sure that you’re giving your client your undivided attention.
- Show them that you’re listening through use of your body language, gestures, and taking notes.
- Provide feedback on what’s being said. However, don’t interrupt. Let them finish their sentence or story before you provide feedback or ask questions. Asking questions is essential to good communication because it can help you clear up potential miscommunication.
- Don’t make snap judgments based on what’s being said. Get all of the facts.
- Provide appropriate responses throughout the conversation and at the end of the conversation.
Follow-up After Every Appointment
Asking whether the client has any questions isn’t enough. Clients often say no because they don’t want to look or feel stupid or uneducated in front of you. Make sure that you follow-up with the client a day or two after the appointment. This can be done over the phone or via email. The purpose is to check-in and find out if the client has any updates or questions. This quick and easy tip shows the client that you care about their matter.
Respect Your Client’s Time
While there are a few times that you really don’t have any control over whether you’re late (such as when a court docket goes over), you do have the ability to control your own schedule. Respect your clients and their time by ensuring that you’re not late for consultations, appointments, phone meetings, conferences, or court. If you are going to be late because of something outside of your control, make sure that your client is told as soon as possible.
Promptly Return Phone Calls and Emails
An easy way to build better client relationships is to make sure that you promptly return phone calls and emails. Your law practice should have a policy that governs the amount of time clients might wait for a return phone call or email. If you’re going to be out of the office for a day (or longer), change your voicemail and your out of office response to let others know that you’re not in the office and when they can expect you to return their message.
Protect the Sanctity of Client Relationships
Clients relationships are crucial. Make sure that you protect them by taking the necessary steps!