You Are Here: Home » Favorite Posts
Everyone makes mistakes. Even lawyers. That's why, in 2010, you should Resolve to Apologize Better.
Why apologize? Apologies increase client loyalty and reduce malpractice exposure. But how do you apologize better? Practice!
Here's a great guide from Psychology Today (about apologizing to women) that sets out the six mandatory elements a good apology:
1. Acknowledge the Wrongful Act
2. Acknowledge that You Have [Caused Harm].
3. Express Your Remorse
4. State Your Intention Not to Repeat
5. Offer to Make Amends
6. Seek Forgiveness
Read the entire article for examples of language you should and shouldn't use, and practice apologizing. You may find a well-timed apologize helps you as much as it helps your relationship with your client.
In A Manager’s Primer on Asking Better Questions, Marty Baker at Creativity Central shares several dozen open-ended questions designed for various situations like Anticipation, Assessment and Clarification that serve as a valuable reminder that “yes” or “no” questions don’t always get you the information you need.
Here’s the suggested questions on “Exploration” from the post:
May we explore that some more?
Can we take a closer look at that?
What other angles can you think of that?
What are some more possibilities?
What’s another way of looking at it?
While many seem quite obvious, making a conscious effort to ask your clients questions differently may just prompt them to give better answers.
Quick, name your favorite customer service class from law school. Can’t do it? I’m not surprised. Most lawyers don’t learn much about client service in school, and the only class that touches upon service at all is Legal Ethics — which is kind of like teaching someone to ride a bike by showing them lots of bicycle accidents.
By delivering great service, you can delight your customers, increase their satisfaction (and reduce malpractice exposure), cut your marketing budget and turn your clients into your best salespeople. And because many of your peers believe something as simple as returning client calls is optional, the bar to delivering the best client service in your community is set pretty low.
Here then, are 10 simple “rules” to help you remember that it is your customers who keep you in business, and when you work to delight (instead of frustrate) them, you’ll both be successful.
1. Just because clients don’t expect great service from lawyers doesn’t excuse you from providing it.
2. Don’t assume you’re great at service because your current clients don’t leave. Many remain your clients because they fear their new lawyer will treat them just like you do.
3. It costs less to delight a client than it does to frustrate them. You pay to delight them once, but you pay for frustrating them forever.
4. It is also far cheaper to compete on service than it is on price, because there will always be someone far cheaper.
5. People tell others about service they receive, not competence they expect. Ever heard someone brag about how clean their dry cleaners get their clothes?
6. The time clients care about isn’t yours, it’s theirs. Build your practice to save them time and they’ll be less reluctant to pay you for yours.
7. Though you might be measured against your peers in a courtroom, when it comes to service, you’re measured against everyone. If your clients named the top ten places they get great service, would your business make the list? It should.
8. Eighty percent of your time should be spent on satisfying your clients’ expectations and twenty percent should be spent on exceeding them.
9. You can’t measure how you’re doing when you only ask how you’ve done. Improving client service begins with learning how to serve your current clients better.
10. If your clients can go months without hearing from you, they can go forever without recommending you. To lawyers, indifference and incompetence are two different things. To clients, they are one in the same.
If you’d like to see some more posts like this one, check out: Ten Rules of Rainmaking, Ten Tweets about Twitter, Ten Resolutions for the New Year, Ten Rules for Law Students, Ten Rules for the New Economy, Ten Rules for New Solos, Ten Rules of Legal Innovation, Ten Rules of Legal Technology, Ten Rules of Hourly Billing and Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing.
Also, if you’d like to see hundreds more ideas on creative ways to deliver great client service, check out all of the Client Service posts here on this blog.
After my Law Firm Website Venn Diagram got such great feedback, I thought I’d do another highlighting one of my big pet peeves: lawyer bios. Here you go:
A few days ago, I wrote about how I was suffering from The Curse of Almost Happy. I realized that being “close to” fulfillment in my life and career wasn’t close at all. So, as I’ve spent this past weekend knocking off several things on my “To Do for Too Long” list, it hit me…
Clients crave predictability. They find comfort in knowing what to expect — especially in stressful situations like the ones you handle for them everyday. But how can you deliver more certainty to your clients? After all, outcomes are impossible to predict and matters ebb and flow from beginning to end. You keep your clients “in…
I’ve been a big fan of Merlin Mann for several years now. As I was checking out his website yesterday, I found his pricing page cheekily titled: Do You Charge Money to Do Things? Here’s how Merlin describes his pricing scheme: For most all of my speaking, consulting, and advisory work, yes: I do charge…
If you’re a lawyer who only surveys your clients once the engagement’s over, you’re leaving a lot of information on the table — information that will not only help you serve future clients, but your current ones as well. That’s why, in 2010, you should Resolve To Ask Current Clients More. Institute a regular, ongoing…
Lots of lawyers claim to be “results-focused.” Clients want good results, after all, and marketing yourself as one “focused” on delivering them has got to be a lot better (to clients, anyway) than being “timesheet-focused.” However, I think many lawyers who focus only on the result are hurting their clients (and their own practices). Let…
Smashing Magazine has published a tremendous guide to designing an easy to understand e-commerce checkout process for web sites. If you take credit cards on your site, it is a must-read. However, even if you don't charge people on the web, you should check out the article anyway, because it explains something about collecting sensitive…
I’ve always thought the idea from this post was a powerful way to understand the gift of time and what you can accomplish in a year: Resolve to Count Cards, using this this incredibly powerful exercise I first ran across in 2006. From an article in the now-defunct Worthwhile Magazine (by creativity guru Eric Maisel) comes this…
I ran across a funny list of Google Autocomplete “Fails” and thought I’d see how Google would autocomplete a few legal-related queries. Sadly, the results aren’t very promising for lawyers. Here are just a few of the results: My lawyer is … Lawyers are … My Lawyer Won’t … Perhaps none of this comes as…
If you’ve got a big client, odds are they’ve got a pet project. Whether it is for a community organization, charity, civic group or volunteer event, supporting the causes your clients do can deepen your relationship with them while benefiting those in need. That’s why, in 2010 you need to Resolve to Take Care of…
What confuses your clients? What are the things that your clients never seem to really understand? Is it the directions to your office, your retainer agreement or their monthly bill? No matter how much you deserve it, undivided attention from clients is a rarity today. Whether it is because of their email pinging, cell phones…
Some of you may know about Kendeo, the design and strategy consulting company I own where I do all my ‘non-legal’ work. I often tell people that “we draw pictures of hard-to-understand things,” and that’s pretty much true. We had some fun with our Holiday card this year and I really wanted to share it…
Legal Marketing has changed. It used to be enough to keep an ad in the yellow pages and belong to the Rotary Club. Not anymore. Times are tough, so I present to you Ten “New” Rules of Legal Marketing. Let me know what you think. 1. “My lawyer can beat up your lawyer” isn’t a…
Kevin Kelly thinks about thinking the unthinkable: The futurist Herman Khan introduced the idea of “thinking the unthinkable” as a way to loosen up the imagination in trying to forecast the future. Most time we are unable to guess the future because we are inhibited by conventional wisdom – something that everyone knows is true. For…
If your clients designed your bills, what would they look like? Would they be easier to understand? Contain useful case status information? How about upcoming dates or milestones? Would your bills include information about the people who worked on the case that month? How about a report card seeking monthly feedback about how you’re serving…
As 2008 draws to a close, it is natural to think about New Year’s resolutions.* We think about our businesses, our clients and ourselves and resolve to do better next year. If you’d like some help, or just some inspiration, here are Ten Resolutions for the New Year. Enjoy: 1. Resolve to be better to…
You have just enough time to send out Thanksgiving cards to your clients this year. Why Thanksgiving cards instead of other holiday cards? Here are a few reasons from this 2008 post: Thanksgiving is a holiday about giving thanks. Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to offer your clients a genuine “Thank you for being our…
If supermarkets were laid out like conference exhibit halls, you'd find milk in every aisle, depending upon how much dairy paid for space.
- Tuesday Apr 21 - 1:39am
Wouldn't it be great if conference exhibit halls were organized like supermarkets, with similar vendors side-by-side for easy comparison?
- Tuesday Apr 21 - 1:38am