The difference between a customer having a good experience and a great experience is often in the details. What a client pays attention to can determine whether they hire you—or a competitor.
According to plan member research from ARAG, the three most common areas on which consumers base the value of their experience—and the likelihood of referrals—are responsiveness, billing expectations, and communication standards.
Take Steps to Increase Responsiveness
Responsiveness refers to how quickly and positively the attorney reacts to customer requests. Understanding client expectations can help attorneys set appropriate agency standards.
- Make the most of the initial consultation—Your first meeting determines the tone of the rest of the relationship. Encourage open dialogue as you define the scope of the legal matter, identify the desired outcome, and determine each party’s expectations.
- Determine appropriate response times—Technology has changed client expectations regarding timeliness. Clients expect faster, if not instant, accessibility, at their convenience. Ask clients how often they expect communication and how they prefer to communicate; i.e. phone, text, or email.
- Determine preferred contact frequency—If a client has a legal matter that may take a significant amount of time, make sure they understand how long it will take to resolve the issue and how often you’ll communicate updates. Biweekly status updates are a baseline but can be adjusted as needed.
Set Fair Billing Expectations
Your approach to billing can help you develop relationships with satisfied, loyal clients who refer business, pay in full, and pay on time. Clients must trust in your legal skills as well as in your daily interactions relating to billing and fees.
- Establish effective procedures—Develop a process for recording time that encourages promptness. Some firms dictate each task immediately and transcribe daily. Others record each task by hand and enter daily, weekly, or by billing cycle. Make sure invoice descriptions are clear and concise.
- Set an appropriate and client-friendly fee—When quoting fees, communicate in terms of value received instead of simply the cost of providing services or number of hours. Base estimates on the client’s desired outcome. Clarify how your fees are calculated and allow clients to ask questions.
Set High, Firmwide Communication Standards
As in any relationship, communication with clients is essential. Take steps to ensure that anyone who communicates with clients sets a tone for respect and professionalism.
- Return every phone call—If you are unable to return a call in a timely fashion, have someone from your office call and let them know when you will follow-up. Always return phone calls within 48 business hours.
- Keep voicemail and out-of-office messaging current—A professional outgoing message can make a positive impression on your clients and prospective clients. If you are going to be out of the office, indicate when you will be gone and when you will return on your voicemail and email.
- Check for level of understanding—Keep in mind that authentic communication only occurs if both parties understand the intended message being delivered. Make sure you and your client agree on important details, including next steps.
Providing top-notch customer service can help your practice flourish. By following these tips, you can foster a deeper relationship and an overall enhanced experience with all of your clients.