5 Ways To Manage, Meet & Exceed Client Expectations
This isn’t rocket science, folks. Clients are people; the way to meet and exceed their expectations (i.e. keep them happy) is the same as it is for anybody else. If you haven’t read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” yet, now would be a good time to do that. But it’s even simpler than Dale Carnegie—remember the golden rule? Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Translation: Treat your clients in the same manner that you’d want to be treated if you were the client. Here’s a cheat sheet:
- Listen. Listen to your clients, and educate them about how the law works. Tell them that courts almost never order specific performance; that the judge is not gonna order the penniless defendant to satisfy any judgment by becoming your butler
- Be up front about fees. If you bill by the hour, give your clients a feel for the ebb and flow of litigation costs. Don’t forget to tell them about future costs for depositions, transcripts, experts, or any other out-of-ordinary expenses. If you charge a fixed or contingent fee, make sure you explain whether the aforementioned expenses are included in your fee, and tell them whether there are any unforeseen possibilities that could affect your fee.
- Don’t nickel and dime them. I almost never bill a client .1 for anything. If I don’t spend at least 10 minutes on a task (phone call, email, etc.) I don’t add it to the bill unless it’s listed at a $0.00 activity rate. (NB: Clio’s time interface makes this especially easy to do.)
- Be courteous. We hear it all the time—the no. 1 cause of disciplinary complaints is neglect, which usually includes failure to return phone calls. Have a policy, or better yet, a system for handling client calls and inquiries (including emails). Here’s where it really helps to have an assistant—I use Ruby Receptionists and a virtual receptionist to return calls when I’m in court or too busy to get back to a client within 1 business day. Also, explain your policy for returning messages—put it in your fee agreement, and say it on your outgoing voicemail greeting.
- Don’t be a lawyer joke. I got a sneak peek at July’s #sfi theme, and I thought it was perfect for this context. Don’t do anything that might remind a client of any of the derogatory lawyer stereotypes.