Client Experience is Everything – Is Your Law Firm Doing It Right?
Summary: The most powerful ways you can improve your law firm’s services are also some of the simplest. They’re things that so many law firms overlook, perhaps because they seem obvious or maybe because a firm hasn’t prioritized what is the most important aspect of any service-based business: their client experience.
Are you paying attention to the people that walk through your door? Do you make sure their interactions with your firm are good from start to finish? You might say, “Sure, I’m nice to my clients,” but being polite isn’t enough. Let’s look at the ways in which you could be making the most of the time you have with clients.
What Do Clients Want?
This is a question that too few attorneys really think about. Of course you know what clients want. They want results -- and it helps if you’re nice, right? This is the wrong way to think about your clients. Obviously, you should be results-oriented; but if that is your only goal, you could be ignoring the crucial human element of running a business.
Clients don’t just want a competent attorney, or even an overperforming attorney; they want to be heard. They want to feel like they are known and cared about by the law firm. They’ve entrusted you with an important task and, in turn, they should be made to feel important.
Your Front Line Should Be More Than an Afterthought
Who is the most valuable player on your team? You might think it’s the attorney who helms the practice, or perhaps it's the assistant that conducts research and prepares legal documents. There’s no denying their crucial role in your law firm. But the first person to talk to your clients when they call or visit is the one the client will associate with your firm.
The receptionist at your law firm should know clients by their first name. They should also know about the client. The deeper their understanding, the better. You need to know what the client wants out of their time at your office. By better understanding the personality of the client, you can cater to their specific needs.
If your receptionist isn’t doing this, don’t be so quick to blame them for their poor job performance. A client-centric approach should be emphasized from the top down. Your staff needs to know that this type of relationship is a priority.
To make sure your receptionist is providing the service your clients need, think about the workload they’re carrying. Are they overburdened with work that others could be doing? Are you freeing them up to do the job you’re asking them to do? Are you giving them the right tools they need to do the best job they can?
Take Cues from Other Industries
Your law firm is a lot more like a restaurant than you think. Don’t get too caught up in the fact that you’re a credentialed professional with several impressive degrees and a specialized skillset. We’re all in the service industry, and we can look to some of our colleagues in the food service industry to take cues in hospitality.
Your clients are your regulars, and regulars choose their favorite spots not just because they like the food. They feel welcome. They like the people they interact with when they’re visiting. In fact, they might even be willing to overlook a less-than-stellar meal just because they’re loyal to a business that treats them so well. These things are also true of your law firm.
At the best restaurants, everyone from the hostess to the server to the general manager makes sure their guest is having the best experience possible. Your firm should be doing this, too. The receptionist, the paralegal and, yes, the attorney should factor in the client’s experience of the firm as heavily as they do the result that they’re trying to achieve.
Revisit Your Approach to Client Experience
The one thing you can do to improve your clients’ experiences at your law firm is to pay attention. Listen to your clients and figure out what makes them unique. Do they like to talk about their family? Do they thrive on hearing the small details about their case? Make notes about your clients’ preferences just like you would make notes about details relevant to their legal needs.
Improving client experience goes well beyond this basic paradigm shift. You should strive to WOW your clients and stand out from the first moment they hear your name and walk into your office. However, you’ll be surprised at how dramatically client experience can improve just by taking the steps we’ve discussed.
It’s a simple adjustment that you and your staff can implement to see immediate and often dramatic results. Try it for one week and see whether you and the rest of your team can notice a difference not only in the way clients react, but also in how much more engaged your team is with your clients.
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