An interesting post recently at Kissmetics.com reminded me once again of the importance of managing client expectations

There was a nugget of wisdom I found especially true: Great client service and poor client service are the two extremes that get talked about. Good client service does not.

Face it, service is what you sell. It is your most profoundly important product. Yet so many lawyers are still stuck in the trap of thinking they sell legal knowledge. Do you want to be just one of thousands selling the same product? That is a sure recipe for failure.

It is human nature to have set expectations. When we visit an expensive restaurant, we expect the service and food to be exceptional. When we visit a fast food joint, we just expect our order to be fast, low priced and correct. 

Think about what the average person’s expectation is of a law firm: expensive and slow to respond to any communication except when it comes to sending out the bills. It’s a pretty low standard. So what are you doing to rise above and distinguish yourself?

At our two-day law firm marketing boot camp, the Rainmaker Retreat, I spend a good chunk of time talking about how to provide exceptional client service. I use one law firm – Bisnar Chase in Orange County, CA – as a telling case study.

When a potential client visits Bisnar Chase, they are greeted by name and taken to a private conference room that also has their name on the door. They are offered a beverage from a menu of drinks. The attorney they are meeting with greets them promptly and listens intently to their needs; there are no forms to fill out at the initial consultation. Their parking is validated and they are given a bottle of water for the road.

Immediately after the initial consultation, the communication process begins. Regular emails are sent to follow up after they become a client, including educational emails about what they can expect from the legal process. Paralegals have regularly scheduled calls with each client about their case. 

Clients receive birthday cards with a small gift certificate as well as a New Year’s gift. They are sent monthly educational and informational e-newsletters, and after the case is over, exit interviews are conducted to determine how the firm performed to expectation.

The firm also conducts extensive training with its staff on how to close the deal and ask for the business. Performance bonuses are given to employees who sign up clients. No prospect ever leaves that office with any doubt that this firm wants their business!

The next time a prospect walks through your door, take a good look at your firm through their eyes. Then begin setting standards for exceptional client service that will place you far and above your competitors.

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With the spectacular announcement of the biggest bankruptcy in law firm history, Dewey & LeBoeuf stunned the legal community. Now comes the work of dissecting what went wrong and how their competitors can avoid a similar fate.

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Order the on-demand webinar on Lessons From Dewey & LeBoeuf: 5 Biggest Reasons Why Law Firms Fail , watch it at your convenience and share it with your partners and associates.