As an attorney, you’re only as good as your relationships. If you have the right relationships with the right people, you’ll always have business coming your way. And with that being said, one of the best things you can do for your business is develop a strategy for maintaining healthy client relationships.
4 Tips and Tricks for Better Client Relationships
It’s been said that the client is often the most neglected party in civil or criminal litigation. As attorneys, we spend so much time focusing on strategy, communicating with other lawyers, reviewing paperwork, and interacting with the court that we frequently forget to give clients the attention and care they deserve.
If you want to improve your practice and truly become an advocate for your clients, you need to place a greater emphasis on relationships. It takes considerable time and effort, but any energy you pour into relationship building will be rewarded many times over. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Stay in Constant Contact
There’s no replacement for regular communication and time spent with clients. While it’s easy to pass off communications to a paralegal or assistant, there’s immense value in handling these person-to-person interactions yourself.
Never let more than a few days pass between interactions with a client. Whether it’s an email, a phone call, or an in-person visit, this steady “drip” will show clients that you care and strengthen the bond you have with them.
You should even make it a point to stay in touch with past clients who don’t currently have any sort of case or project in the works. There are numerous ways to do this. For example, occasionally sending out greeting cards is a great way to stay on top of a client’s mind all year round. Thus, when they eventually do have a need, you’ll be the first person they call.
2. Use the Right Tools
We live in a world that’s chock full of automation and advanced solutions that are designed to simplify your approach to business. You have to be sensitive enough to identify the proper balance of automation. (There’s a place for it, but you don’t want to sterilize your interactions.)
A good CRM solution can prove enormously helpful. Not only does it collect lots of data on your clients, but it can also be optimized to help you learn more about your clients and prepare you for more informed discussions.
“For example, your CRM could provide a pre-meeting briefing digest containing information about each individual, news about the client, recent meetings they’ve attended, if you share any mutual contacts, and more,” CRM professional Steward Walchli writes. “This briefing is more timely, useful, and easy to use than a 100-page monthly report. In addition, your enhanced CRM system could track changes in relationship strength with new contacts and assess which activities are likely to drive change to improve your firm’s prospecting.”
3. Get to Know Clients on a Personal Level
Professionalism is obviously very important in an attorney-client relationship, but be wary of being too rigid in how you interact with your clients. There’s something to be said for getting to know clients on a personal level, as well.
The more you know about your clients – such as their hobbies and interests, personal life experiences, kids’ names, etc. – the more connected to them you’ll feel (and vice versa).
4. Offer Complimentary Services
Whatever you do, don’t nickel and dime your clients. While you’re certainly within your rights to charge for whatever time and services you provide, there’s something to be said for relaxing your approach a bit.
If you want to build healthy relationships that last for years and decades to come, it would behoove you to offer the occasional complimentary service or some pro-bono work. A small gesture goes a long way.
At the heart of every healthy, thriving practice are relationships that go deeper than surface level. While you don’t have to be your client’s best friend, you do need to make an effort to care for their needs in an appropriate manner that gives them the best chance to be happy and successful. And there’s no better time to start than today!