Lawyers are more visible today than ever before. You can no longer rely solely on your reputation for winning cases to bring in new business. Your client’s experience matters just as much — if not more than — the results you provide them.
Client experience is the journey your clients take from the beginning of your relationship to the end. If they feel lost or left behind, they will choose a different path next time. Building an exceptional client experience helps them feel heard, respected and cared for throughout their case. How your clients feel — not the outcome of their case — will often determine whether they refer new clients to you and work with you again in the future.
Design your Client Experience
Before a client ever walks through your door, you should have a plan for her. Take time to consider every detail of your relationship. The more intentional you are in planning your client experience, the more likely you’ll be to follow through every time. Consider these questions when creating your plan.
- How will you respond when she first contacts you?
- What will you discuss in your first meeting?
- What paperwork do you need and how will it be delivered?
- How often will you update her about her case?
- How can she contact you with any new questions throughout the process?
Listen First, Act Second
People are social creatures. We have a desire to be heard and understood. New clients come to you because they have a problem that they can’t solve on their own. That’s a disorienting and often terrifying experience.
Your opportunity as their lawyer is to offer empathy as well as expertise. Listen carefully to their story. Don’t just gather facts and begin your mental planning while they are still talking. Help them feel heard and understood.
Communication is the cornerstone of a successful client experience. Your clients don’t come to you to make their problems magically disappear. Instead, many expect that they are hiring a partner to guide them through the problem-solving process. A great client experience for those clients is a collaborative approach.
Collaboration means keeping the lines of communication open – even when there are no updates on the case. Cases can sometimes go months without any new developments. Waiting for something new to happen to communicate with your client could leave them feeling abandoned and anxious. At the beginning of your relationship, set up a plan for communication touchpoints. Something as simple as an automated status email telling them nothing has changed will remind and encourage your client that she hasn’t been forgotten or abandoned in the process.
Remember, you’re in the people business. Crafting an exceptional client experience keeps your firm’s attention on what matters most — the people who come to your law firm looking for help. If you work hard to make them feel heard, respected and cared for, your clients will become your best advocates, returning to you for help and referring new clients to you regularly.