3 Keys to Improving Your Client Experience
I hear a lot of talk about how to improve customer service. In fact there are books and books written about the topic. Unfortunately most of us don’t have the time or inclination to read another book about customer service. So, I thought I’d distill lots of pages into just three steps.
These three steps are deceptively simple. You’ll be tempted to say “sure.” Disregard the article and just move on. Don’t! Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective. So here we go:
How to Improve Your Client Experience in 3 Easy Steps
1. Make every engagement with your office pleasant and consistent. Notice I didn’t say just “consistent.” To make every engagement consistent only, you’d be sure to set up your phones to be answered by a digital call center. Same message every time; (And of course, “Please listen to the entire message because our options have changed.” Clients interact with you and your firm in a number of very predictable ways: telephone, email, fax, snail mail, in person.
You have the ability to insure that every contact is pleasant and consistent, but you must decide that this is your objective. Why is this important to the client? A short or hateful staff member (or lawyer) communicates the message, “I don’t really care about you or your problem.” The client is looking to entrust their legal problems or needs to someone who cares. This simple understanding should form the focus of your training and encouragement of your team. For example:
How do you want the phone answered (every time)? If three people answer the phone from time to time, do they answer it the same way? Why does it matter? Consistency builds and fosters trust. This is a small detail in your business but it is one that is completely within your control.
When a visitor comes into your office, how is she greeted by your team? Do you ever go to a retail store and find that it seems the sales staff is more interested in talking with one another than in helping you select an item that meets your needs? Most of us have. How did it make you feel? The way visitors are greeted, and treated in the firs 90 seconds that they are in your office sets their mindset for the balance of their time there.
Be sure you actually know how they are greeted. Train your staff on how the experience should flow. Consider what you can do to make your client or prospective client feel important, necessary, comfortable and at ease. This will go a long way to improving the experience every time!
2. Find out what the Client really wants to achieve. Again, simple. But: we are so prone to be a problem solver sometimes we assume we know the resolution the client wants. Remember what we’ve all learned about “assume”? After you have spent some time listening carefully, pose one question: “What result would you like for me to achieve for you if I had a magic solution wand?” You’ll be amazed at the answers you’ll get. Some folks will tell you that this question will set you up for failure because you don’t have the “magic solution wand.” I disagree. If you know for sure what the client really wants you can decide if you should accept the representation or not. Additionally, now is a good time to adjust expectations if that is necessary. Remember that for many clients, the only contact they have with the legal system is what they see on television. We both know it seldom works the way TV producers have designed. Now is also a good time to tell the client that a particular objective is not “doable.” Do your best not to get into the middle of an engagement and find what you can achieve and what the client expects are miles apart. This will be a bad experience for both of you.
3. Keep clients informed. It’s unlikely that you can over communicate with your client. We often need to be reminded that a client doesn’t know anything that you are doing for them unless you tell them or show them. So what do I mean by this. First, copy the client on everything; every letter, every pleading, every correspondence received. Be assured that the client will know you are working for them when they actually see it with their own eyes. Because we are involved in the process every day, we often see things as pretty obvious. Most clients don’t. The client doesn’t know why we have to take depositions. They don’t know how court dates are obtained or bumped. It’s up to you to tell them about the process (setting expectations) and then allow them to see the process play out. If you’ll do that you’ll build trust and confidence while doing the good job you were going to do for the client any way.
I’d be interested to hear from you in the comments below if you found these tips helpful and if you’ve got some other ideas. Thanks.