Ten Secrets to Forming Good Client Relationships


The essence of a good marketing plan is to develop methods  to enhance client relationships with your current and past clients and at the same time identify ways to find new clients.  Many attorneys forget about past clients because they do not realize that they can be a source of referrals as well as new business themselves.  It is important to treat past clients with the respect they deserve.  Here are ten ideas to incorporate in your practice to insure good client relationships with both current and past clients.

 

1.       Make sure your practice is client centric.  The client comes first.  If you have accepted only ideal clients into your practice, you will not need to control the client. You will have clients who respect your time and counsel.  Not sure how to identify an ideal client?  Read this list first published in May of 2010 .

2.       Return phone calls in a timely way. Make it a practice to return calls in 24 hours. If you find that you are receiving too many calls then examine the reasons your clients are calling you.  Is there anything you need to do to cut down the number?  Perhaps another staff member could call back for you.  Perhaps you are not giving the client all that he/she needs during the office visit.

3.       Ask clients for feedback.  Client feedback is very important.  You may not see or hear what the client observes.  It is important to understand the client’s experience of you and your staff.   If the feedback is negative, be sure to acknowledge that you heard it and will address it.  When the issue is addressed get back to the client with the resolution.  Never argue with the client.  Remember number 1 from this list – Your practice is client centric.

4.       Proactively call past clients to stay connected. Keep a list of past clients and call them periodically to stay connected.  Just sending a Christmas card is not enough.  Be sure to have a meaningful conversation with the past client to retain your relationship. People appreciate someone who cares enough to call periodically.  Past clients can be a source of referrals and may even become a client again.

5.       Send clients updates on law changes that affect them. It is your business to know about changes in the law.  Your clients may or may not be aware of the changes.  Periodically either call or write them advising them of the changes and suggesting ways for them to deal with the change.  In some cases this may mean more business for you.  Just doing this one task insures that past clients know you are up-to-date and that you care about them.

6.       Make sure your staff knows each client by name.  Nothing is more welcoming to me than when the receptionist or office manager knows my name and greets me.  I feel that I am important to my attorney and it also makes me feel he/she values my business.

7.       Make sure your staff has a basic understanding of each client’s case.  When a client calls the office he/she may have a simple question for the attorney.  If the staff has an understanding of the case they can answer the simple questions.  You will need to be clear with your staff what questions they can answer and which ones need to be answered by you.

8.       When appropriate be available to visit the client in his/her business or home.  Clients for various reasons may be unable to get to your office.  Make the effort to visit these clients in their own environment.  For business attorneys seeing the place of business may be useful.  For estate planning attorneys it may be necessary in order to see an elderly client.

9.       Forecast your work appropriately so that it is complete when you promise it will be.  If you commit to have the work ready for a client by a certain date, be sure to live up to that promise.  This means you will need to get good at managing your workflow and scheduling your work.  Be realistic.  It is always best to give a date that exceeds the amount of time you think you will need.

10.   Send your bill at least monthly with a clear description of what you did for the fee you are charging.  If you are writing off some expenses, make sure you let the client know that on the bill itself.  Your bill is one way to show the client that you have done work in his/her behalf.

How are you doing on client development?  I have a client development diagnostic tool that will allow you to see how you are doing.  It will highlight the areas where you have weaknesses.  I’d be happy to send you the diagnostic tool and to review it with you once you complete it.  We’ll come up with a plan  to take the necessary action that will drive more ideal clients to your practice. Call me at 781-598-0388 or email me at asparker@asparker.com

 

 

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