Your Law Firm and Client Service

- Richard Brock

“We are what we repeatably do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

 Growth in your law firm rests largely on client retention. Your firm’s capacity to retain clients will shape the future of your practice and long-term success. Client retention is not only far less costly than attracting new clients; satisfied existing clients are often your best source for landing new clients.   In an article by John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D., CMC, who has been a consultant to Law firms and other professional service organizations for more than four decades, he suggests that “Obtaining new work from existing clients is the most productive type of marketing.”

If the key to success is client retention, what then is the key to client retention? While there is more than one aspect, the central pillar in retaining clients is client service.

Unfortunately, the statistics on client service in the legal realm are alarming. According to lawyerist.com (Robin Bull, 6/26/2019):

  • Fewer than 10% of clients who call a law firm will get to speak to a lawyer.
  • More than 40% of people who leave a voicemail or fill out a web form wait two or three days before they hear back.
  • 11% of callers hang up within 10 seconds of calling a law firm because they’re frustrated at not getting to speak with the person they ask for by name.’’

On the other hand, if poor client service is the norm, then delivering excellent client service is your firm’s golden opportunity to grow and stand apart from your competitors. Studies suggest more than 65% of consumers are willing to pay more for service that delivers a great experience.

Create an attractive working culture for your attorneys and your nonlegal staff. Although work culture may sound like a different subject, it has a connection. The culture in your office is an essential component of a client’s first impression. It is also a reason to stay with your firm. Clients know that how you treat your staff is the best indication of how you will treat them.

Follow with client-centric communication. When your clients are confident that your firm will listen, understand, and respond promptly, their level of trust and then satisfaction increases.

  • Keep a warm and friendly front face. Employ an administrative assistant who answers the phone, takes a message, and delivers it promptly to the correct attorney.
  • Be upfront about your process from the first contact, so your client knows what to expect. Set clear guidelines on what communication method is best and when your client can expect it.
  • Respond to calls, emails, and other communications in a timely manner.
  • Send updates throughout the process of each case.
  • Use layman’s terms verbally and in written documents; save the legal jargon for when you’re conversing with colleagues.

Relationship is essential: Your clients are your clients because they have a crucial issue, whether it’s a personal crisis, such as divorce and custodial issues; a business matter that is important to their financial status, or a lawsuit either initiated by them or one against which they must defend themselves.

  • Learn the story behind the issue. Ensure that your clients know you have their back.
  • Get to know your client on a deeper level. Acknowledge milestones with an email, card, or quick phone call. Skip the automated generic and take time to make it personal to them.
  • Place as much value on your clients’ time as you do on yours. Always be prepared for scheduled appointments.
  • Be aware of your clients’ unique situations. Whether it’s a generational or cultural difference or a disability, take time to understand and accommodate them.

Receive and listen to client feedback. Ask your clients how they feel, what’s important to them, why they would choose to stay or leave, etc. Consider conducting a client survey. It not only lets your clients know how much their needs matter to your firm, but also will provide insight regarding communication, client needs, and crucial relationship builders.

Offer competitive fees. An attorney worth his/her salt is worth his/her fees. The truth is, clients often base their opinion of quality on the cost of their ‘purchase.’ On the other hand, if they believe your prices are exorbitant, they will resent it.

In summary, retaining clients is vital to your law firm’s growth and longevity, and it begins with standout client service. Remember that your clients have a lot of options today.  Make choosing your firm the best choice for them.

Of course, quality client service begins with hiring attorneys who support your client service philosophies. That’s our passion at Onboard Search. We are committed to finding the very best talent for you.  We do this by combining in-depth knowledge of the legal industry with decades of practical experience in conducting high-level searches.  Our ability to find and deliver elite legal talent is how we drive value for our clients. To learn more, contact us today. Our work on your behalf is always discreet, confidential, and effective.