By Ally Kennedy, Founder of Amiga
This is the sixth and final installment of our 6-part series: Be the CEO of Your Law Firm. Becoming the CEO of your law firm is an important step that we all must take to move from an underearning attorney to a powerful business owner of a law firm. In my journey to transform my practice, my business, and my life from being the associate attorney of my own law firm to the CEO, I have developed the 6 Roles and Responsibilities as the CEO of Your Law Firm. They are:
Vision and Strategy
This week we are focusing on the sixth Role and Responsibility: Client Satisfaction.
Most of us become lawyers because we love the work. We love to help people. We want our clients to win their cases. We want to solve their problems in the ways that only we, as lawyers, know how.
However, most of us treat clients like they are a transaction rather than an ongoing relationship. We fix their problem and we do a great job for them from a legal perspective. Oftentimes we fail to consider the client experience. The client’s experience with you, your staff, and your firm is what determines whether a client is satisfied. Great results without nurturing clients can still lead to a client having a less than satisfactory experience.
When creating the customer experience, it is crucial to remember (and constantly remind yourself) this one thing: clients are turning to you during some of the most difficult times in their lives. Most people do not work with lawyers when things are going well. Most people turn to lawyers when something is going wrong, causing them stress or anxiety, or when an experience is outside of their knowledge and understanding. This means that they are likely scared. They have a problem and they need a solution. They hope that you are the one who has the answer and even if they believe that you do, they are afraid that you may not be able to provide the results they desire.
Creating a meaningful, thoughtful experience will help your clients feel satisfied with your work on both a professional and personal level.
Here are a few tips to help increase client satisfaction:
Clients want to hear from you, even if you do not have anything to say. Make it a point to call every single client once a month. A phone call to say, “Your case is still pending and so far, everything is going well,” means a lot to your clients. Pick a day each month that you or someone on your team will call the clients. Carve out a set amount of time. The phone calls usually take 5 minutes or less. It is a small investment of time that makes a huge difference.
Send a case status update letter each month. We created a generic letter and we just highlight the portion relevant to the client when we send it so that we don’t have to create an individualized letter for the client yet the client still receives something from us about his/her case. Our policy is to mail the monthly update letters on the day that we mail out our bills to make it easy and consistent. Don’t have the time to write and translate a letter? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Check out our Amiga Doc: Monthly Client Update Letter so you can use it and make it your own.
2. Make them Feel Valued
A client wants to feel like s/he matters to you. For many of us immigration attorneys, our clients’ lives are in our hands. That is powerful and meaningful. Take the time to show them that you care by doing small gestures that go above and beyond the legal work that you do for them. Did your client just have a baby? Send a small gift of congratulations. Did your client have an accident at work? Send a get well card letter. We send birthday cards each month to our clients, their partners/ spouses, and their children. Our clients absolutely love it and we get calls every month thanking us.
3. Stay in Touch
As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Keep on the forefront of your clients’ minds by staying in touch regularly. Marketing experts say that you should have a “touch” with your clients each month by way of a newsletter, mailer, or some other meaningful contact with your clients. Though you will be communicating with them monthly about their cases, sending out holiday cards, quarterly postcards, or monthly newsletters takes that contact a step further. By reaching out to current and past clients in this way, you remind them that they are an important part of your firm. Our quarterly postcard mailers usher in the change of the season with a fun greeting. A newsletter can discuss, in a page or less, the issues that are important to your clients, such as the latest in immigration reform, legal updates, and more.
4. Respond Quickly
Aim for emails to be returned within the day and phone calls to be returned within 24 business hours. Sometimes it is difficult to respond quickly when you know that the issue isn’t urgent and does not really require your attention. However, do not forget the most important principal: your client is scared, nervous, and waiting to hear from you. Maybe the issue is small, or maybe it isn’t an issue at all. But your client doesn’t know that. One of the main reasons for bar complaints is that people say that their lawyers did not communicate with them enough. Creating and maintaining guidelines to ensure a quick client response is critical to ensuring client satisfaction.
5. Handle Contact Uniformly
My assistant, Brenda, taught me an important lesson in customer service: create scripts. Scripts are a great way to ensure that all client communication is handled uniformly. The script does not need to be verbatim, word-for-word what your team needs to say, rather it provides required guidelines for each client interaction. For example, “use the formal ‘you’ form when speaking in Spanish, say the client’s name at least 3 times during each interaction, orally summarize an understanding of the client’s question or dilemma for the client, end with a formal goodbye.” This ensures that everyone in your firm is interacting with your clients in a way that is congruent with your firm’s values. For more of Brenda’s amazing tips, don’t miss October’s Power Hour: Customer Service Like a Pro. We will teach you everything we know about customer service, sales, the client experience, and more!