By Ally Kennedy, Founder of Amiga
Many solos and small firms struggle with earning enough money, especially in the field of immigration law. One of the main reasons that many of us underearn is because we struggle with the duality of doing work that we love and are passionate about while at the same time asking those people, many of whom are low-income, to pay our fees. It is important to understand that these two concepts are not mutually exclusive. You can do excellent work serving the people you want to serve and still make a great living.
The way that you can do this is by creating an incredible client experience. Your passion for the cause and the compassion for your clients can come through in the way that you serve them. By cultivating an unforgettable client experience you can charge appropriate fees, stop negotiating against yourself, and do the work that you love while making a real living at it. Your clients will be happy because in addition to getting excellent legal assistance, they will get the care and attention that they desire. Their emotional needs will be met along with their legal needs. You will be able to feel more comfortable in charging appropriate fees because you will value your work more. You will know that you are providing more than a transaction, you will be providing a life-transforming, personalized experience.
Here are a few tips to help you maximize client satisfaction and elevate the client experience:
1. Honor the Investment With Every Detail
You clients are investing in their lives by paying you. If a client pays you any amount of money, whether it is $200, $2,000, or $20,000, he will believe that it is a lot of money. They are scared and nervous and may never have worked with a lawyer before. It is important to recognize this and act accordingly. You can demonstrate that you honor their investment by:
- Offering something to drink to your client and their family upon arrival (Bonus points for serving on a tray or platter)
- Dressing professionally and appropriately (Keep a suit jacket in your office and put it on before meeting with the client. It’s a small detail but it goes a long way, even if you are dressed more casually)
- Providing a comfortable waiting area and office seating area
- Providing toys and entertainment for small children
- Referring to spouses and children by name (Check the file before the client arrives to refresh your memory on names)
2. Overcommunicate About Their Cases
Each month give a client an update about the case, even if there is nothing going on. If the case is pending, give them a call to say so. A quick hello and “your case is still pending and all is going well,” is very meaningful for clients. Each month we call every single client in addition to sending out a monthly case update letter. The letter is very general, but it lets the clients know where they are in the process.
3. Show Them That You Care on a Personal Level
You do this work because you love it and because you care about your clients and the cause. Oftentimes we do not express this to the clients, which is a misstep because your clients want and need to know how much you care. Here are some ways that you can show your clients just how important they are to you:
- Celebrate their life events (Send a small gift or note when your clients have a baby, get married, etc. Also, if the client suffers a tragic event, receiving something from you is very meaningful)
- Send birthday cards (Every month we send birthday cards to our clients, their spouses, and their kids. We get so many calls saying thank you)
- Tell them that you care (This is so simple that we often forget to do it. Telling your clients, “I want you to win. I want you to remain in the United States with your family. I will fight hard for you,” goes a really, really, really long way. They want to know that you care about them and that, even though you have many clients, their case is unique and special. Which it is!)
- Respond quickly (It does not matter how long someone has been your client, s/he likely feels bad to reach out to you for questions/concerns. For this reason, it is important that you communicate with your clients as quickly as possible once they reach out to you. Your clients are likely scared, nervous, and overwhelmed. Sometimes they need your support on something that you know is a minor issue, but since they have never gone through this before, it’s a major issue to them. Honor their experience by returning their contacts quickly)
By doing small things to personalize and elevate your clients’ experiences, they will be reminded of your value as more than the attorney that is pushing through their paperwork. You will be then able to feel more comfortable charging what you are worth and continue to provide excellent legal services.