How to Turn a Frustrated Client into a Happy One

When you hire an attorney, it’s not typically a happy occasion. You’re going through a tough time in your life: You’ve been arrested, you’re grieving a parent, you’re filing for divorce or bankruptcy…. In a word: You’re stressed.

With clients in such a highly emotional state, it’s easy to see why they may get upset or frustrated from time to time.

Close to half of Ruby Receptionists’ clients are lawyers, and over the years, we’ve found these strategies to work well in calming down and reassuring unhappy callers:

Ring instead of reply. If you receive a prickly email from a client (or even a colleague), reach for the receiver before hitting “reply.” Written communication can be misinterpreted, and even the most well-meaning tone can come across as sarcastic or cold to someone’s who is already frustrated. As Ruby Founder Jill Nelson explained recently, when emotions are running high, picking up the phone or offering to meet face-to-face can show a greater level of care, thoughtfulness, and respect.

Give them some room. Have you ever been upset and had someone interrupt you? It can feel like they’re not listening, or worse, like they’re not taking you seriously. Even if you have the solution on the tip of your tongue, giving them a few moments to vent will help you earn their trust.

Acknowledge their frustration. Show you’ve been listening by reiterating what you’ve heard. Express that you’re on their side by adding an “I would be upset, too!” – but only if you truly mean it. An insincere or lackluster remark might make your caller more upset. If you’re empathetic to a caller’s strife, show it! If not, move on to explaining how you’ll help.

Explain your action plan. Once your caller trusts that you understand their concerns and are invested in making it right, go over the next steps.

Even when you can’t help, you can still help! If your caller is upset about something outside of your control, put yourself in their shoes. What would comfort you? If they’re upset that you don’t handle a certain type of case, offer to give them a referral or the phone number to the local bar association. If they’re frustrated that they haven’t heard back from the court yet, offer to check back in in a few days, whether or not you have more information.

Your clients are people – people with real emotions, who have bad days. Show them that you value them as a person and how you can help, and you’ll see your frustrated client become a happy one.

One Response to “How to Turn a Frustrated Client into a Happy One”

  1. […] lead most people to hiring a lawyer, it’s no wonder that clients tend to be unhappy. But you can smooth over client frustrations through a hands-on, empathetic and personal […]