Let's build a quick scenario together...
John has a legal problem. It's the kind of legal problem that your firm just happens to handle and John has found out about your firm somehow. Maybe a friend referred him or he found you on the Internet. Either way, John calls you up. The person on the other end utters a terse, "Hello, Your Local Law Firm. What can I do for you?" The receptionist can be heard typing on the other end and clearly seems distracted during a rather uninteresting and not always polite 5-minute conversation. An appointment was scheduled, but John doesn't really feel all that confident in your firm, so he schedules a couple other appointments with other attorneys.
John shows up to the appointment with you and is barely greeted by the staff. He's simply told to wait in the waiting area. It's quiet and sparse. The only sound he can hear is someone taking a personal call in a nearby office. He has to wait for nearly 10 minutes before he is told to go into the conference room where you are waiting. Over the course of his hour-long appointment with you, there is a discussion about his legal issue in general terms and some solutions are provided. John thinks you sound pretty good at what you do, but he figures it would be worth it to still go to the other appointments. He leaves and never hears from you or your team after the meeting, so he ends up signing with someone else a few days later.
The story above is a fairly common one in all to many small law offices. Even when effort is put into making the phone ring, there is rarely enough consideration put into what should be done when the call actually happens.
This is the customer service gap, and it is costing you every time you lose a client. Don't think it's not happening in your own practice. These kinds of things happen every day. Some mistakes are worse than others, but every single error is an opportunity to lose money.
5 Essential Customer Service Opportunities
There are stages to customer service that must be observed and improved if you want to both get more clients and drive more referrals to your practice. Here are the areas in which you need to have a well thought-out customer service plan:
- Initial Phone Call -- Nearly 80% of the customer service violations happen here, and they are costly to your bottom line. Receptionists act uninterested in the legal problem of the potential client and treat the caller as an inconvenience rather than an opportunity to help. You need to enforce positive behaviors from everyone who answers the phone. The old phrase of "answer with a smile" still applies. Phone calls shouldn't be combative, but that is what happens when there is negativity coming from your end of the line. Callers are never inconveniences; they're the only way you make money!
- The First Appointment -- The assumption seems to be that if someone has set an appointment then the deal is practically done. This sentiment couldn't be any further from the truth! There should a carefully structured postive customer service experience from the moment someone walks in your door. Whether you are offering a selection of beverages or giving them an iPad to browse the web while they wait, you need to take advantage of every moment that the potential client spends in your office.
- Immediately After Signing -- As soon as someone agrees to become a client, you have a chance to showcase excellent customer service. Send a card to their home along with a little token of appreciation from your office. Any time someone makes a "purchase," they will feel buyer's remorse. You want to get rid of that feeling as quickly as possible.
- While You're Doing the Work -- While you handle the legal work, you want to make sure your current clients know you are thinking of them. Small notes, even from a paralegal or receptionist, can go a long way. The client wants to know that he or she hasn't been forgotten by some busy law firm. After all, as far as they are concerned, theirs is the only case that matters.
- Immediately After the Result -- Reinforce the goodwill you get after a positive outcome by thanking the client. That may seem counterintuitive - after all, you were the one who put in all that work - but turning the tables is exactly how you can surprise the client. Making the great result about them will turn them from just a happy client to a long-term evangelist.
If you added just one distinct element to each one of these five stages, you would find yourself far ahead in getting more referrals from current and past clients. All it takes is a card or a phone call. The trick is to actually do it every single time for every single client.
Do You Want More Leads so You Can Help More Clients?
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