Posted on Feb 04, 2019
Making Promises You Can’t Keep
Promising your clients the moon and the stars can be tempting, as it can help you win over their favor early on in your relationship. But, building up sky high expectations can be dangerous. For one, you’ll be placing an extremely high level of pressure on yourself, something that if done enough can leave you feeling overstressed and burnt out.
Even if you’re cool under pressure and great at your job, there can always be unforeseen circumstances that keep you from delivering outstanding results to your clients. Even if you do everything right, and deliver the best outcome possible given the situation, clients may still be upset if you don’t reach that high bar you initially set for them. The end result could be a negative online review that puts an unfortunate stain on your firm’s reputation, or a missed opportunity to represent a client again.
It may sound a bit uninspired, but sometimes under promising and over delivering is your best route to follow. When first meeting with new clients, lay out realistic expectations, and have your promises relate to things you have complete control over. For example, promise to do everything in your power to generate a positive outcome, rather than guaranteeing a certain result.
Spending Too Much Time On The Wrong Clients
For anyone running a business, letting a potential income opportunity slip away feels just wrong. But, sometimes you may need to lose a battle to ultimately win the war. Whether a client is overly difficult, takes up to much of your time, or has a case that just isn’t a great fit for you firm, you need to recognize that early on in the relationship and not wait to take action.
You of course won’t be able to kick every slightly annoying client to the curb, as some prima donnas and exhausting individuals will present too big a payday to ignore. But, an analysis of which clients are worth your time and which aren’t, should constantly be taking place. Having a well-thought-out legal intake process in place from the start can help you gather important information about new customers, and give you a strong indication from the start of whether a client is worth your time.
Remember, the weeks you spend on a client that brings you nothing but aggravation, could be better spent a client that ends up having a real relationship with your firm. Don’t be afraid to rip off that band aid! Ending client relationships should always be done with the utmost professionalism, and in cases where it is appropriate, refer them to another attorney that might be a better fit for their needs. You never know when that attorney might return the favor and give you a great client.
Failing To Learn About Your Client
For busy lawyers, efficiency is always a top goal. Because of this, attorneys are often only interested in gathering the meat and potatoes details about a new client and their case, rather than sitting down and really learning about who the person they’re representing really is and what they’ve been through.
Some of our advice for improving client relationships:
“Have your client write you a letter about the ‘story of my life.’ The client certainly feels better and gets a real opportunity to tell you all about his or her history. The client can write this while away from your office and spend some time gathering facts and information. It is simply amazing what you will learn about your client. I have never failed to obtain at least one little ‘nugget’ that will help me later in the case.”
By taking just a few extra minutes to learn about your clients life history, rather than just their case history, you’re accomplishing two important things. 1) You’re showing right away that you actually care about your clients as people, something that should play in your favor, when clients are evaluating your handling of their case. 2) You’re ensuring that you’re fully prepared to build a client’s case, and that very little will surprise you as the case progresses.
Keeping Your Client Uninformed
Many of today’s consumers have grown up or at least spent a good portion of their life in the digital age, a time period where vast information is available to them at the click of a few buttons. So the “trust me, I’m your lawyer approach” doesn’t play so well with clients these days. The people you’re representing are going to want to information about how their case is progressing and what actions are being taken every step of the way.
We’re sure most lawyers out there can be trusted to handle a case without frequent check-ins from their clients. But, what attorneys must remember is that most clients aren’t asking questions because they don’t trust you, but because they’re scared.
The customers you’re serving likely came to you because they’re going through a time of crisis or uncertainty. So rather than waiting for clients to ask you what’s happening, shoot them a short message or engage in a quick phone call. Give them a brief update on what you’re currently working on, and what’s next, even if it’s nothing significant. And don’t just assume something will be too complicated for a non-lawyer to digest. Take a few minutes to make sure your clients have at least a basic understanding of what’s happening.
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