Great client relationship is a critical component to the success of every law office. Having good client relations will not only inspire loyalty and devotion in your clients, but it can directly impact your bottom-line. Although many attorneys understand the importance of good client relations, most law offices are too busy to spend time on building their relationships with clients. We have decided to solve this issue by showing you our rules on building lasting relationships.
You will be surprised as to how simple, yet effective, these rules really are.
Content Cradle has put together a 7-part mini-series on how law firms can improve their client relations. Without further ado, here are the second set of 10 rules on how law firms can establish great client relations.
EVERYTHING SHOULD BE TRANSPARENT AND IN WRITING
Make sure that agreements with your clients are in writing, with full transparency about fees and conditions.
You don’t ever want to put yourself or your clients in situations of confusion. Not only does that make you look unprofessional, but you’ll begin to lose trust with your clients. People trust professionals who stand by their word and make sure their clients understand every detail of the agreement.
When you do put together a written agreement or disclosure, make sure you go through the agreement together with your client. By doing so, your clients will know that you’re a person they can trust. Even if your fees are higher than other law firms, your clients will still stay loyal to you. Trust is one of the biggest factors in establishing great client relations for law firms.
USE HOLIDAYS TO SHOW YOUR CLIENTS YOU APPRECIATE THEM
Holiday cards are terrific for expressing client appreciation.
Law firms with great client relations focus primarily on how they make their clients feel. Sending holiday cards is just another way of making your clients feel appreciated. By sending your clients holiday cards, whether it’s for Christmas, Hanukkah, or the New Year, you are showing that they are on your mind at all times, even during holidays.
Even the simplest holiday card can go a long way in establishing a loyal clientele. Great client relationships are heavily influenced by your clients feeling that they are valued.
KEEP YOUR CLIENTS NOTIFIED ABOUT BILLING
Unclear fees and are another way of destroying your reputation with your clients.
Make sure that your clients know exactly what they are being billed for. Clients, especially new ones, are very skeptical of their retainers being taken advantage of. The best advice that we can give you is to make sure that you tell your clients exactly when and how you will send invoices prior to accepting any money from them. Needless to say, but I’m going to say it anyway, make sure that you keep your promise and send them invoices regularly.
We recommend that you send your clients invoices no later than every two weeks. Ideally, you should be sending them invoices every week, because consistency demonstrates your reliability.
DON’T ACCEPT EVERY SINGLE CASE, FILTER OUT THE HEADACHES
Every now and then, there are those “trouble clients”. You know it when you see it. If you want to avoid trouble, simply avoid those types of clients.
This depends on your standards as a law firm and what type of person you consider to be trouble. In most cases, depending on your standards, you already know the type that causes trouble. The best advice that we can give you is to avoid these types of people, because it will be very difficult to maintain a good attorney-client relationship, anyway.
If you work with clients who value your work and respect your expertise, very rarely will your relations with your clients be at risk. It just takes that one “trouble client” to not only add more stress to your life, but actually damage your reputation in certain circles.
KNOW HOW TO NETWORK AT SOCIAL EVENTS
Networking events, even social events, often consist of many potential clients.
Many attorneys confuse networking with sales, and it is the very reason why they avoid networking in the first place. Amateur networkers will go to events and try to convert every person they meet to a client. It just doesn’t work that way. The purpose of networking is to allow you to make friends with people who are either in your field or use the types of services that you offer. Networking is based on the fact that it is human nature to do business with people that you like.
Here’s how it generally goes:
- You meet someone at an event
- You find out what the person does for a living. This is where you determine if he/she would ever need your services
- You find something in common, preferably something unrelated to work, and have an enjoyable conversation
- Exchange contact information
- Connect with them on LinkedIn or by email
- Call them up a week later and set a time to meet up for lunch, or perhaps at the next networking event
- Ask for a referral. If they need your services, they would tell you. If not, at least you’ve made a friend that will potentially send you referrals.
Networking is all about making friends, which will grow your professional network and your clientele.
KNOW HOW TO ASK FOR REFERRALS
Ask everybody that you know, from friends and family to clients and staff members, for referrals. People naturally enjoy being helpful. By accepting help from others, you are indirectly making them feel valuable.
Law firms can improve their relationships with their clients by asking them for referrals. To further elaborate what I mentioned above, accepting help is a sign of trust. When you ask your clients for referrals, you are indirectly implying that they trust your service so much that they would refer others to you. Subconsciously, they will be more inclined to trust you if they recommend you to others.
USE THE POWER OF PRAISE TO MOTIVATE
Praising others is perhaps one of the best ways to express your gratitude.
Most people thrive on praise. Praise makes them feel important and valued. Anytime you praise someone for the good things they’ve done, you are boosting their self-esteem. The secret ingredient of charmers is their ability to make others around them feel good about themselves. Boosting other people’s self-esteem through praise is a sure-fire way of starting a great relationship with them. Praising your clients will inspire loyalty and devotion in them.
ALWAYS BE AVAILABLE IN PERSON OR BY PHONE
Simply put, you will lose your clients if you are never there for them.
For every business, especially law firms, great client relations are the result of trust and reliability. By being available to your clients, you are proving to them that you value their business and that you are always available if they need you. Every client wants to be able to rely on their attorney. Once you prove your reliability to them, you will have their loyalty, because they simply won’t look for other attorneys and risk losing the availability.
SHOW CLIENTS HOW TO DEDUCT THEIR LEGAL EXPENSES IN THEIR TAXES
Every November, the IRS gives you a chance to show your clients that you care about them.
Legal expenses can be deducted when doing your taxes. Although some may not know this, the vast majority of your clients will definitely deduct their legal expenses from their income every tax season. Whether they know this or not, every one of your clients will appreciate you sending them a breakdown of what they’ve paid you within the tax year and how they can deduct these expenses. This is another way to show your clients that you are reliable and on top of things.
REACH OUT TO CLIENTS WITH INACTIVE CASES
Anytime a case has been inactive for a certain period of time (usually 3 months), we highly advise that you send them a letter of inactivity.
Sending a letter of inactivity is a reason for you to connect with your dormant clients. Many times, your clients could be so busy that they prolong their cases. It’s your duty, as their legal advisor, to help them take action in a timely manner. Letters of inactivity can easily revive old cases, thus directly contributing to your bottom-line.