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How to Build Better Relationships With Clients

Establishing, building and retaining relationships with clients and potential leads should be a main concern for any law firm. Numerous client relationship building and managing strategies exist. Law firms can take steps to improve their skills in client relationship management. Technology is here to help too, with various client relationship management (CRM) software.

Here are steps law firms can take to encourage, develop and keep better relationships with clients:

Understand clients and their needs

In order to build relationships, you must be able to understand your clients and their needs. In order to accomplish this, ask questions to get all the information. Get to know your clients in addition to knowing their legal issues or problems. Understand what they need from you and where they are coming from. It helps your client’s case if you understand their situation. Additionally, a touch of personal sharing my help to strengthen relationships.

Lastly, show appreciation and tell clients they matter. Treat them like human beings that have come to you for help. Simple gestures count, such as remembering client names, keeping promises and being interested in their lives.

Share your knowledge

Use and share your in-depth knowledge about your work. Your insight is one of your best marketing assets. Increasingly, people are going online to look for information about their issues before deciding whether to hire a lawyer. If you can provide them with some answers, you have already begun to build trust before you meet the prospective client.

Sharing knowledge also helps you maintain relationships. Something as little as a tip to help a client with their business goes a long way to keeping that individual coming back.

Communicate consistently

Maintaining contact is key to building relationships with clients. Effective, consistent communication throughout the case and after it is completed, increases client satisfaction. When interacting with clients, aim to not just meet client expectations, but to exceed them with exemplary work and communication. A satisfied client, will likely bring in repeat business or new clients for your law firm.

Be forthcoming about costs

Be honest and open with clients about costs and fees. Keep them updated on costs as they arise during their case and keep invoicing simple and clear. If you make a mistake, own up to it. It does not matter how it happened, just sincerely apologize and move on.

Create a partnership

Avoid just doing the work and moving on to another file, another client. Treat each client you serve as a partner in an ongoing partnership, one that is mutually beneficial to both of you. This builds and sustains relationships for the long term. Also, ensure you have a clear contract with your client. Make sure your clients understand your role in helping them resolve their legal issue.

Know when to say “No”

Say no when you need to. You cannot and should not do anything and everything a client asks you to do. Learning boundaries is important for any service provider, especially one working with clients who may be in distress. It is also important that you establish realistic goals and expectations because failing to do so will lead to a disappointed client and potentially negative public feedback. Deliver what you say you are going to deliver. It builds credibility.

Conversely, be willingly say yes when asked to do legal tasks within your niche and capabilities, even if the matter is complex. Endeavor to be a problem solver. Examine a clients' issues from all angles. Each case is different and knowing more makes for creative solutions. Clients appreciate that and are more likely to talk about you to friends and family.

Ask for feedback and reviews

Always follow up with clients. Especially after their case is completed, follow up and keep in touch. Doing this keeps your name and firm at the top of their mind. After a successful case remember to ask clients for feedback. A happy client is a repeat client who will be more likely to submit a positive review and mention your firm to others. Make sure there is a process in place that allows for seamless review and feedback submissions.

When faced with negative reviews, have a plan for addressing negative feedback. You should always be able to address any criticisms or concerns, rectify them and work to ensure future clients do not have the same complaints.

The more time attorneys put into working with clients, the more positively clients tend to respond, and that is really what any law firm wants — happy, repeat clients and new clients who are pleased with the service they receive. If you can make a small shift in focus from the matter at hand to also taking an interest in the whole client and their issues, the empathy expended benefits the client. The connection becomes deeper.

Lawyers need to be aware of their clients in order to get a good grasp of issues involved, concerns they may have and the depth of their legal problems. This builds trust, triggering the possibility of consistent repeat and referral business.

Client Relationship Management Software

A law firm CRM system can be many things. Primarily, it stores contact information, previous interactions, biographical information and legal needs. It is a ready reference for lawyers needing information on a client. It can also be set up to automatically generate follow-ups, or to remind lawyers that a follow-up is due. These systems may also include automatic consultation scheduling.

There are a number of CRMs on the market, and here are a few you may wish to explore:

Hubspot CRM: A cloud-based free CRM that tracks and manages interactions between you, potential clients and current clients. Hubspot allows you to track email. It informs you when prospective clients have seen your messages. This feature allows you to follow-up at ideal moments, catching leads while you know they are thinking about your firm.

Hubspot also provides calendaring services. Potential clients can simply click on a link and choose a time to be added to your meeting calendar, preventing timely back-and-forth. Hubspot also offers paid plans for firms that may need an advanced suite of services.

Infusionsoft: An automated marketing, sales and CRM software for small businesses and law firms to help better manage emails and client interactions.

Intake123: A drag and drop form creation tool. The diverse collection of standardized forms and intake questions allows you to create easy-to-use forms for different types of intake and communication.

Law Ruler: An AI-powered cloud-based CRM and client intake software exclusively for attorneys and law firms. Law Ruler includes a form builder, text messaging, email templates, HIPPA-compliant records requesting and lead tracking.

Lawmatics: A law firm focused CRM featuring automated intake process, custom emails for drip campaigns, custom fields and reporting.

Lexicata: A cloud-based CRM/intake software to help attorneys automate intake workflows. Lexicata also offers online intake forms, email management and contact management. Its analytics and reports help you track and monitor your efforts, so modifications can be made as needed.

Pipeliner: A powerful sales/contact management software featuring automated workflows and intuitive interface to help generate more clients.

What does the future hold for law firms that become more client-centered? It is a good bet that law firms will do well if they invest the time into client relationships. It is not just about the law, it about the human face of law.

About Author

Kerrie Spencer is a staff contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine.

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