If you have been practicing law for awhile, you know that there are some reasons clients leave that you can do nothing about. Some may leave you for a competitor. Some may leave because they don’t need you anymore — the matter is over or they have decided not to pursue it.
By far, though, the biggest reasons clients leave is because they perceive an attitude of indifference from your firm or are dissatisfied with your service. And that is something you can change.
Preventing clients from leaving you starts with a commitment to client retention. Here are six tips:
#1: Pick profitable clients.
Sounds simple, yes? But you’d be amazed how many attorneys fail to keep the profit picture in mind when chasing new sources of revenue. You do not want to be the lawyer who signs up everyone who calls. Look at your most profitable clients and create a profile of your ideal client, then qualify your leads to see who fits.
#2: Set some expectations.
Unmet expectations are another big reasons clients leave the fold. From day one of your new relationship with a client, you need to be sure they have realistic expectations of the services you can provide and the outcome they can expect.
#3: Communicate clearly and often.
Nothing will send a profitable client packing faster than poor communication. It’s a bad habit and one you can break, even if you’re a busy solo or small firm. Put a communications process in place to fill in for the shortfalls you’ve created. And remember: when you are communicating with clients, be sure to leave the legal jargon out of the conversation. Stay on their comprehension level and you’ll alleviate the opportunities for miscommunication.
Sometimes clients just want a sounding board. You may have heard the problem a thousand times before, but it’s fresh to them — and important. Give the courtesy of being a good listener.
#5: Be really responsive.
The most successful firms I know have a process for returning calls and emails — usually within an hour of receiving them. If you’re going to be in court all day, have your email and phone messages monitored by someone in the office and task them with replying (but not with giving legal advice, unless they are also an attorney). Even if it’s to say you are currently unavailable, this at least lets clients know you are aware they need you and will get back to them as soon as you can.
#6: Maintain visibility.
Don’t just make an appearance when there’s money on the table. Even if you have tasked associates with the work, make sure you maintain some visibility with the client throughout the duration of the case to ensure client retention.