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Five Client Conversations to Have Now

We are entering the final months of the year, which is often a time of reflection (and collection). At WPG, we’ve been reminded of the valuable year-end actions that will show your clients you are listening and are focused on providing the best client service possible.

No matter the stage of your career or your focus as you look to 2019, consider how to best use your time these next few months. Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Call a client and ask something other than whether the bills will be paid before the end of December. Being proactive and listening to clients’ needs is one of the most valuable client service offerings a lawyer can provide. Ask questions related to the client’s anticipated needs, challenges and what, if any, changes are going to occur in the coming year.
  2. Ask how to add value to the relationship. Take the time to ask your clients what you can do individually and as a firm to add value that doesn’t show up on the bill. We have consistently heard over the years that clients are reticent to ask for the small things. We have collected wish lists that clients would love help tackling. Too often outside counsel don’t ask the simple question of their clients: What is the project, initiative, etc. that you just never seem to get to?
  3. Understand how your clients use technology. This is particularly important for those clients in legal departments that don’t have budgets for technology investments. Law firms are invested in, and investing in, state-of-the-art technology. But what are the clients investing in? And what tools, platforms and solutions can the firm provide with little or no cost?
  4. Share professional resources. If you are thinking about creating bespoke fee arrangements, have the firm’s business and finance people meet with their counterparts at the client. Sometimes that’s someone in legal department operations, and sometimes it’s someone in the business of the company that ultimately pays the bills. Align resources whenever possible and break down barriers that prohibit the most helpful people from joining in the conversation.
  5. Create habits around client service. When seeking insights from clients in any of these areas, don’t just do it once. When we are training lawyers on business development and client service, we talk about habits. How often are you making time to do the things that will lead to success? Create a habit of reaching out to clients not when there is a problem or a deadline but when you and your client can really talk about what the client needs and what you can do to make life easier.

The end of the year is a natural time to have these conversations and lets you stand out from the crowd (the crowd trying to collect). Instead of waiting for the New Year, start asking your clients these questions now and get a jump start on developing happier, more loyal clients.

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