Three simple words that just might be the single most important concept to getting, keeping and strengthening your business relationships. Often, however, living the client experience is one of those things that we talk about much more than we do.
Let’s first consider how hard it is to get a new client; wouldn’t we be better off spending some of that effort on holding onto the clients we already have? By taking the time to get to know our clients and their businesses?
All customers want to believe they are cared about and that their best interests are at the forefront of everything we do for them. So if we don’t know our client’s business how can we know what is best for them? If we don’t know about there personal situation, how can we recommend other services or courses of action? It’s simple, we can’t.
Lawyers build their practice around knowing what their clients want, and when and how they want it.
Sometimes we almost get it right – asking clients what they want, when they want it, and how they want it – but then going and doing it our way anyway.
So what about listening to exactly what our clients want and then delivering on there needs?
Clients today expect us to deliver on our promises. Law firms are taking more time to consult with their top clients with an understanding that nurturing these important relationships can only result in more business for the firm down the road.
We need to ask ourselves if we are asking clients the right questions and, more importantly, are we following up on what we promise?
How often should we be speaking with our clients and getting their feedback? Every couple of years? Every year? There is no magic formula, but it should really be every time you interact with your client, as well as some legwork behind the scenes.
Let’s say you have the basics taken care of: a formal interview through a third party takes place with your client annually, your client receives all mass correspondence and event invitations that are relevant to their business, and you regularly discuss how the transactions you are working on for the client are going. If you are doing these things you are already ahead of the game.
So what else is there to do?
It’s the “what else” that will make you stand out from all the other practitioners out there. Take time to forward commentary to clients that is relevant to their business and their success – outside of projects you are working on. Stay up to date with industry trends so that when you run into your client or they give you a call you can speak about what is happening. Know about what is going on in their life outside of work – birthdays, anniversaries, graduations or other celebrations, where appropriate. These simple steps will show you are listening to them, not only for their cheque book, but on a personal level as well.
Clients understand that lawyers are a necessary service and they expect that good lawyers know the law. But clients also expect more. They want great lawyers who know the law, know their business, provide more than they expect, and understand what makes them successful. Great lawyers deliver on a great experience.
By delivering on your promises and creating a client experience, you will not only create a better lawyer-client relationship, but will also make it much easier for your client to refer others to you. Keep this up and you will find that more work finds you, rather than the other way around.