There’s a relatively new expression buzzing around the legal community. Office management experts are advising law firms to transition towards a “client-centered” practice to attract and maintain more customers. While you may think that your firm is already doing this , a closer look at what a client-centered practice actually entails may inspire you to make some changes.
Modern consumers differ significantly from prior generations. What constituted exceptional customer service just a couple of decades ago is no longer cutting it for a consumer who is more informed than ever before. This is the information age, and most clients have done their homework before they even consider seeking representation from your firm. So, it’s important to respect these clients and not disregard the knowledge that they bring to the table. For example:
- Don’t become insulted or irritated if a potential client brings up information she read on another firm’s website. Instead, take the opportunity to provide some additional incite that exemplifies your knowledge and sets you apart from the competition
- Let clients and potential clients know that you value their time. Today’s consumers are constantly on the go, with little time and even less patience. Leaving a potential client on hold for too long or sitting in your waiting room for an unreasonably long period can ultimately leave your firm without a client.
- Make it easy for them to schedule appointments with you. One thing we just implemented at TimeSolv was using an online appointment scheduler that was tied to the calendar of our customer support people. This made scheduled appointments for training hassle-free for both our users and our support staff. There are plenty of options, but we chose Appointlet to serve our needs.
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Meeting a Need
An important aspect of a client-centered practice is acknowledging the specific needs of each client. This starts from the initial consultation. Actively listen to the client’s concerns and desired outcome of the matter. Right from the beginning, create an environment where the client feels comfortable communicating concerns and asking questions. Firm attorneys should include the client in the process of creating a strategy and maintain communication about the direction of the case. Collaboration and information exchange are vital in a client-centered law firm.
Under this practice model, potential profits sometimes take a backseat to the client’s best interests. Your firm should make a serious effort to anticipate potential problems in the case and resolve them in the most efficient and less costly manner.
The client-centered strategy does not stop and start with the associates and partners in your firm. Support staff actions should exemplify this same goal, especially if they come into direct contact with clients. No one wants to call a business they support and deal with a rude receptionist or be rushed off the phone by a busy associate. Create a culture that extends throughout your firm and places every client on the same page. One thnig we’re proud of at TimeSolve is our personal, one-on-one level of support. We’ve heard again and again from our customers that they appreciate that they can call us up and talk to a real, live human being.
With the crowded field of law firms, setting your practice apart is vitally important for success. A client-centered strategy lets potential clients know that your firm gives the utmost consideration to their needs, with attorneys who work to meet the client’s interest instead of their own.
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