Today, I’m pleased to share a guest blog post written by an Arizona attorney. Michael K. Skousen takes up an issue on which most lawyers believe themselves expert: client communication. Of course, we all know we could improve, and Michael provides some pointers that may help you do just that.
Here is Michael, who is a member of Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, PLC, in Mesa:
It is no secret that clients are what keep you in practice as an attorney. You have spent years honing your skills in your specific field of law, but all of that can quickly vanish if you do not excel at communicating with your prospective and current clients. When individuals reach out to you for help, it is easy to forget how frenzied and panicked they are because of their current situation. Chances are you have been trained or self-taught to see their situations in black and white, fact from fabrication, cause and effect. However, expressing that viewpoint can come off as cold and callous.
Client communication is a tricky aspect of your job because you want to exude intelligence and confidence while presenting yourself in a professional, yet compassionate manner to your client. Exactly how can you balance all of these traits and secure customer satisfaction? It all starts with your first point of contact with the individual seeking your representation or advice.
1. How quick were you to reply or answer the contact form inquiry or phone call?
Promptness is key in converting the prospective inquiry to an actual client. Understandably, some requests can come after-business hours, but a great rule of thumb is to respond to any questions within one business day. Taking this action can convey courtesy or respect to the prospective (and current) client by recognizing the time-sensitive matters.
2. Do you or your office have a follow-up procedure in place?
Some phone calls or completed contact forms are individuals shopping around, and you respect that. After all, you examine your options before hiring a contractor or medical practice for yourself. Exactly how many of your own experiences in seeking second opinions included the courtesy of a non-salesmanship follow-up? This point of contact could simply be a phone call, an email or even a letter. Here are some guidelines that can impress your prospective client and potentially turn it around into a lead:
- Set up a follow-up procedure for a three-day-rule of each inquiry not already converted into a client relationship
- Summarize their original inquiry with the date they contacted you
- Ask if they have found representation or received the adequate answer for their inquiry
- Offer your availability for additional questions they may have
- Provide your contact information
Chances are they will perceive this as genuine, and if they do not need your services at this time, they are more likely to remember you for a matter either of their own or as a referral for someone else they know. Take notice at this last point:
- Leave the ball in their court, so to speak, as this is your last point of contact with this individual until they contact you again
3. How much time are you really giving to your clients?
Some inquiries and consultations prove to be quick, while others linger on a bit too long. Here are some tips to make the client feel valued yet respectful of your time:
- Your consultations should be more than 30 minutes but less than an hour
- Provide adequate time for others to ask you questions about you and your firm
- Give them your full attention. Keep distractions down to a minimum. This means the office phone, your personal phone and any other electronic devices that prevent you from staying focused
- Summarize their need, how you can meet their need and your contact information at end of consultation to validate that you were listening to them and can provide a solution for them.
Every lawyer and law practice has their own communication style that works best for them; however, the tips mentioned throughout this article should serve both as a reminder and as a healthy adjustment if your communication record with clients has been less than satisfactory.
As a member of Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, PLC, Mesa’s personal injury law firm, Michael J. Skousen has more than 20 years of experience working with victims of auto accidents and wrongful death cases. Mr. Skousen has achieved successful compensation for legal incidents in cases such as these, and his credentials with reputable legal organizations include the Maricopa County Bar Association, the State Bar of Arizona and the U.S. District Court. You can find him on his personal website as well as his law firm’s site, sgplaw.com.Follow @azatty