The answer to this may surprise you. Your first thought when asked this question would probably be with the result of their case. Did you get them a good settlement? Were they pleased with your representation? Did they have a good “experience”? All of these questions and their answers are factors, but the start of client loyalty begins with listening. The real key to client loyalty comes in how your firm or team handles mistakes.
It has been proven in study after study that physicians who apologize when they make a mistake that causes harm to a patient are less likely to get sued than those who do not. In many ways, the same is true for your clients. If you hear to what your clients are saying and truly apologize for your errors, they are more likely to return as future clients and refer others.
The key to developing client loyalty lies in establishing relationships that are based upon innovation, creativity, cooperation, communication and satisfactory outcomes. It is important to note: Just because you have good client “service” doesn’t mean you have good client loyalty.
- The best way to build client loyalty is to provide outstanding client service. But how do you do this? You should REALLY get to know your clients. Your clients need to feel like you care. This is called emotional dependence. Empathize with them, make them feel important, and support them. Once you do this, communication opens up and your clients will feel like they are talking to a person, not someone who is there to collect a paycheck because “it’s their job.” In order to accomplish this, you need to understand what your client’s value most, go beyond their expectations, and respond to their feedback in a prompt manner. Make sure that every call, email, or personal visit is positive. If you treat your clients well, then you will have repeat clients for life!
- Train your associates and team members. This cannot be stressed enough! In one job, we were given a survey to take about client service. It had questions about how we would handle certain situations and a list of answers for you to choose from. I cannot tell you how far off most clients were from the answers the associates and team members chose as being correct for the firm. It is important to identify the expectations of your team members in how they take care of their clients. Then, dig deeper! See if these expectations are being met. Once you have gathered this information, it is even more important to find ways to exceed future expectations. A law firm is constantly growing and changing. Stay on top of training and evaluate all of your associates and team members.
- Get your clients involved. In my last job, we created an advisory board. We asked some of our top clients (who had referred our firm at least 2 or more cases) to give input and evaluate new marketing concepts. Giving your clients a say breeds loyalty. This happens because now they have buy-in and a connection to the success of your firm. Put a form on your website where clients can submit ideas, thoughts, or feedback. Whether is it is a new marketing idea, ways to improve your firm’s operations, or a survey for clients to give feedback on, listening to your clients will improve client loyalty. Paying attention to how satisfied your clients are will also inform you of whether or not your firm’s performance level is effective. Whatever the form may be, if a client submits the form, be sure to follow up with them immediately. Thank them for their input and continue to inform them of where their feedback stands. Keeping them in the loop will ensure that they know you care. You can never beat that kind of service!!
Your client should feel as though they can fully rely on your firm to fulfill every aspect of their needs and to trust that the firm and/or their attorney has their best interests in mind. There are a ton of blog posts, webinars, and websites that provide you with a plethora of information regarding client loyalty. Research what other top firms and other top companies in other industries are doing. Look at what processes you have in place and see where you measure up compared to your competition. Remember, great client service is a critical part of client loyalty. Your firm should continually develop yourselves in order to fulfill the needs and desires of your clients.