By Brenda German
The key to establishing a successful firm is to nourish trust within your clients. How do you do that? Make them feel valued!
I have been working at Ally’s law firm for over a year and have already heard the similar client story a couple of hundred times. Most of our clients come from similar places, have had similar upbringings, and are fighting for the same end goal. However, even though their cases might seem routine to us, it most definitely does not feel that way to them. Each and every client that picks up the phone to call us has summoned up the courage to take initiative for their lives. More often than not they will approach the firm feeling nervous or scared. This is when great customer service steps in. It is our job to ease the client through the immigration process while also valuing their trust in us and making them feel like they are unique, because they are. Every interaction that a client has with you or your staff is important. From the initial phone call to the finalization of their case, the interaction matters.
I worked in customer service for several years before I began working for Ally and was able to pick up good customer service training along the way. Customer service training consists of information that will lead to higher customer satisfaction rates. Client satisfaction is the main thing that customer service strives to achieve, and our law firm is no different! Modifying seemingly minor things, such as the way we answer our phones, has made a huge difference in the number of people that sign up with us. Good customer service is not only important to us, it is fundamental.
Here are some of the customer service tips that we use at our firm:
The initial phone call that a client makes to set up a consultation is arguably the most important contact that your client has with your firm because it is the very first impression that they will get of your law firm. The initial phone call biggest contributor to your bottom line. If the potential client does not sign up for a consultation, then you have no clients.
Begin establishing trust with your potential client the moment that they call to set up a consultation. You do this by listening to them. If your policy is to set a consultation to schedule an appointment, it does not mean that you should cut them off and tell them right in that moment. If you do give information over the phone, I am sure that you know whether or not a person qualifies for something within the first couple of minutes of them talking to you. Again, it does not mean that you need to interrupt. Listen to them. The five minutes that you spend on the phone is worth it. They want to be heard.
Reflect their feelings. When a person calls your office for the first time, she or he is scared, nervous, and/or anxious. It means a lot to reflect those feelings back to the person. Phrases such as, “I am sorry to hear you are going through this,” or, “This must be very stressful for you,” mean a lot to clients.
Ask for their name and use it. When you answer the phone, ask for the caller’s name as soon as you can. Once they have told you their name, be sure to use it no less than three times during the duration of the call. For example, “How can I help you, Maria?” “Maria, thank you very much for calling.” Do this whether or not they schedule the appointment.
Avoid using negative words. Words with negative connotations to them can have a subconscious effect on your client. The use of one or two negative words might seem innocent, but several negative words used in your pitch can make or break the delivery of it. For example, when you are ready to let your client know of your pricing avoid using the word “cost.” Instead, use words such as “worth.” You can say “The worth of a work permit is insert price here.” (A work permit is priceless so this makes it sound like a good deal!) Using the word “worth” instead of “cost” sounds much more positive. If you want to keep it even simpler you can say, “It will be insert price here.” For example, “A consultation with the lawyer is $150.00.” You can get as creative as you would like, but avoid the use of the word “cost.”
In Person Meetings:
We often forget the amount of fear that a client feels when visiting his or her lawyer, especially the first time. It is not that they fear their lawyers, rather it is the fact that they are dealing with something that will determine what will happen with their lives and the lives of their families.
Every client should walk out of your office feeling better about their cases than when they walked in. Your amazing legal counsel is what makes them feel good about their case but their experience while at your office plays a big part too. Their experience with you (despite the end result) plays a big role in whether or not they will refer more people to you. If you are a lawyer, the client already knows that you are legally knowledgeable. Your legal ability is already implied when the client reached out to you. Therefore, in order for you to stand out from the pool of other lawyers, focus on ways that you can make this the best experience for your clients.
Get to know the client’s culture. What is the culture of your ideal client? Ally’s ideal client is a man of Mexican descent who is about 30-40 years old. Most of our clients fit the ideal client description so we were able to set a company culture that accommodates to it.
If you have ever been to a Mexican household, then you know that the first thing they usually do is offer their guest something to drink or eat. This is something that immediately makes you feel welcome in their home. We want our firm to be no different! We want our clients to feel like they are welcome and well taken care of. We have a coffee maker at our office and have made a habit of giving our clients hot chocolate or coffee each time they come in. This is a small example of something simple that you can do to better the experience of your client. No detail is too small.
Our clients often come to our office with their children. We make sure to have toys in Ally’s office for the consultation so the children can play leaving the adults to focus. We also chose the size of our offices to accommodate large families coming in together. We have extra chairs on hand, and we are able to arrange the seating according to the number of family members who come together.