“Soft” skills get a bad rap. Think back to the days before you were licensed to practice law and how important it was to list real, concrete skills on your resume when applying for a job. If you’re like many job applicants, you started listing things like “ability to listen” or “enthusiastic collaborator” only after you’d run out of practical skills like “woodworking” or “audio editing.”
Now that you’re practicing law, your practical skills are well known. Your resume today would include “litigation” or “briefs or motions writing or whatever skills your practice area requires. Those skills are essential for your legal practice, but it’s important for attorneys to realize that those skills are the exact same skills that most law firms offer to potential clients.
In today’s highly competitive legal field, it’s actually your “soft skills” that will set you apart from other law firms. So, it is more important than ever that you can actually communicate and empathize with your clients.
Legal Skills Just Aren’t Enough Anymore
Maybe you have years of experience in a certain practice area. Let’s say you handle personal injury, product liability and medical malpractice cases, and you’ve achieved many impressive settlements and verdicts for your clients. And, being the great marketer that you are, you’ve listed many of them on your website for potential clients to review and take in.
So, a client finds you after conducting a search on the internet (or by word of mouth) and they schedule a free consultation to meet with you and your team. But when they get to your firm, things don’t match-up with the “person” they saw on the website and the “feel” & first impression they had about your firm. There is a HUGE disconnect.
The office environment that is less than inviting. They are rushed into a room with you and your legal assistant. Because you know how “these cases” work, you’re only interested in hearing facts that are “relevant” to the case. Because you’re overbooked and understaffed and you only commit a certain amount of time for each case (based upon its estimated value),you haven’t bothered to commit the potential client’s name to memory yet (because again, YOU haven’t decided if you want the case, not whether THEY want to hire you). And, even if you are interested in the case, you aren’t so interested in the person you’re talking to.
So, same potential client goes to see a competing firm (although they aren’t as talented and haven’t achieved as high verdicts or settlements – but still successful in their own right) The client was impressed with your track record, but not surprisingly, they just didn’t feel like they were important or that their case “mattered” to you or your firm.. However, when they visit your competitor, they had the red carpet rolled out for them. The competing firm’s attorney and staff make them feel as though they are just as interested in the client’s personal life as they are in their case.
Before making a final decision about who to hire, the client is essentially asking themselves “who they trust more”. At the end of the day, there’s no huge surprise about who they hire, they hire the firm who they believe cares about them the most (not just their case, but actually them as people). Not surprisingly, they are likely to choose the firm that they believe cares more.
Client Experience IS the Difference
No matter how impressive you are as an attorney, you’ll regularly lose clients to competitors if they offer superior client experience. To convince people that you’re the right fit for their case, you’ll need to leverage your team’s “soft skills”, which more often than not pull together to make-up your firm’s total client experience.
Giving clients the best experience possible means listening to them and knowing who they are, what they want out of their relationship with your firm and how you can meet their needs. It requires empathy and attention to detail, but it doesn’t end there. You want to wow potential clients by knowing and anticipating their hopes for an interaction with your firm.
Once you’ve managed to wow a potential client, you need to ensure that their incredible first experience is repeated in every ensuing interaction they have with your firm. It’s a given that you’ll be doing everything in your ability to get them a result that they need, but you’ll want to make sure their experience of your firm rivals and even exceeds your services.
One of the main keys is focusing on communication and engagement throughout every aspect of client experience. If you’re unsure of where to begin, we encourage you to contact LMA to talk with Lauren. Lauren has not only practiced law herself, she has helped many attorneys set themselves apart from competitors by defining, improving and implementing their client experience. Contact LMA today to learn more about how to stand out from the crowd and how to leverage this into exponential firm growth & development.