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TOP TWENTY FIVE TIPS (Plus one) FOR CLIENT RELATIONS (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

By Patricia Yevics

Realize that most of the tips that you will receive on client relations are common sense and not rocket science.

  1. The most important tip to remember is that good client service starts with good client selection.
  2. Develop good client intake procedures.
  3. Do not take clients outside your area of expertise.
  4. Send non-engagement letters to any potential client you do not take.
  5. Do not over-promise. If you cannot deliver on something you promised, contact the client immediately, beg for forgiveness and make certain you never over-promise with this client ever again. Clients are more likely to remember the promises you did not keep than those that you did.
  6. ALWAYS tell your client the truth if you make a mistake. Tell the client as soon as you know a mistake has been made. Most clients will forgive a mistake. They will not as easily forgive trying to hide a mistake.
  7. Stay on top of technology. Clients want to know that your firm (even if you are a solo) is one of the best and understanding and using technology can give you that edge. If you are not on top of technology, do not "brag" to clients that you are a techno-dinosaur.
  8. Make certain that your work is timely and you keep clients informed about all developments.
  9. Never give clients the impression that you are too busy to answer their calls or complete their work.
  10. Develop your fee collection policies, put them in writing and give a copy to new (and existing) clients.
  11. Discuss your fees and collection policy at the first meeting.
  12. Introduce your clients to your staff if you are in a small firm and to your assistant and others in your department if you are in a large firm. Often these staff will have a great deal of contact with your clients.
  13. Make certain that your staff understands that they contribute to the success of the practice. Regardless of how many people you have in your firm, the interaction your clients, or potential clients, have with your support staff or associates is just as important as the contact they have with you. Every person in your firm should be an asset to the practice.
  14. Every employee, regardless of how many or how few, should have the same enthusiasm for helping clients as you do.
  15. Contact clients regularly. Don't allow the only contact you have with a client be about some type of problem.
  16. Begin to call at least one client a week just to see how things are going. Keep the call brief, tell them the reason you are calling, and let them know you are there when they need you.
  17. Always return your phone calls within 24 hours. If you can't personally return them, have someone else return them.
  18. Keep your staff informed. If you expect your staff to contribute to your success, and you should, then it is important that you keep them informed about clients and your commitment to providing the best service possible.
  19. Never make clients wait longer than five minutes to see you. Their time is just as valuable as yours.
  20. Bill monthly and with detail. Show that there was effort in the work you performed. Consider writing a short note on each bill.
  21. Write a little "no-activity" note to clients whose matter had not been worked on in 90 days.
  22. It is important to communicate with clients regularly. Send clients copies of all correspondence related to their case.
  23. Call at least one client a week for no reason other than to touch base. Do not charge for the call and let them know that you are not charging for the call.
  24. Be available. Let your clients know that you will call them at home if you will be out all day. If you work on the weekends, you may want to set some time to talk with clients. You have to make a decision as to whether or not you want to allow clients to call you at home. This is a very personal decision. You might want to have a separate line installed at home that will be just for clients to contact you during "non­business" hours.
  25. Always say thank you.
  26. Ask your clients what they think of your work, your firm, your service.

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