Do you know how and how often you are annoying your clients? Do you know how many procedures and processes are driving your clients to distraction? I am not talking about the huge things here either, but the everyday gripes and grievances that test your clients’ patience. If you do not find out what these are and remove them it can put a serious limit on your earnings capabilities.
In a non legal setting (it’s often nice to step outside of the legal arena from time to time) I have a nice local cafe that I sometimes sit in and write my articles and ponder the universe. If I write something I am very happy with, occasionally I will reward myself with some sort of sticky bun. Now if you have ever eaten a sticky bun, and I am sure you have, you need a nice clean serviette once you are finished to clean yourself up with. Well in this coffee shop they deliver your serviette on the plate underneath the sticky bun, i.e. pre-stickied up for you. Why on earth they do this is beyond me, and when I ask they just say that is the way they do it. Are you doing anything like this that irks your clients even just a little bit?
In the legal setting, one of my clients was keen to win new clients. I explained I could find them a new referrer but that I could tell they needed to improve their internal systems to ensure they could convert the leads that the referrer would send to them. They did not see that any changes were needed and asked me to go ahead anyway. I should have said no but they insisted they would be able to please all of the referrer’s clients and prospects. I secured the introduction and after a few weeks the referrer went away as the changes that were needed were not made.
On this occasion my client knew what the problem was – they failed to return calls quickly enough because their staff had no concept and had had no training on the importance of incredibly fast service. This meant the clients gave up waiting for the call back and instead made some new calls and placed their business elsewhere.
So the question is, what, if anything, are you doing to make your clients lose patience and possibly take their instructions elsewhere? It is often the smallest matters that irritate to such an extent that your clients “give up” on you. It might not even be the quality of your legal work (and most times it is not).
Here are some potentially client relationship threatening common problems:
- Failing to answer the telephone quickly enough
- Never returning messages left on voicemail
- Constantly fobbing off clients to junior support staff
- Giving legal advice when all the client wants to do is to get the matter off their chest and hear some compassion
- Your receptionist failing to acknowledge your clients arrival into your offices (even if they are busy on the telephone they should wave to acknowledge that your client’s arrival has been spotted and they will be with them soon)
- Placing your client on hold and forgetting them
- Not doing as you say you are going to do
- Not doing what you say you are going to do when you said you were going to do it (catchy that one but an incredibly frustrating one for clients)
- Not telling your clients what will happen and when it will happen!
- Not offering your clients other services when they clearly need them (e.g. Wills if they have a family)
It is sometimes very hard for you to see these problems, but your clients see them all the time, so why not ask them? They will be happy that you have included them and seem genuinely interested in improving your service, and you will probably learn an awful lot!
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