In the last two weeks, I have conducted 18 client feedback interviews for a variety of firms across industries ranging from high tech to old-line manufacturing. Interviewees have ranged from general counsel to entrepreneurs to F500 CFOs to intellectual property managers.
Many of the GCs and other clients share similar top-of-mind concerns and needs. And here is the beautiful thing: The concerns are no different than they were last month and are no different than what they will be next month or the month after.
It’s not about the concerns. It’s about how you listen for clients’ needs in every interaction and then, ultimately, make their lives easier by serving those needs.
We often talk about the primary needs of clients—managing expectations, adding value, simplifying their lives and understanding their personal goals and their business needs (in addition to their legal needs).
All of that comes down to communication. Here are five easy ways to improve your communication that the client will notice and appreciate:
- Be Subject Specific: Change the subject line on an email when the subject changes (and don’t use generic subject lines).
- Change Your Signature: Does your cell phone email signature line read “…sent from my iPhone” or another generic message? If it does, change it now to include your cell phone or office number. Then they will be able to call you back after receiving an email from your device without having to look up your phone number.
- Offer Info in Voicemail: When you are going to be out of the office, make sure your voicemail tells clients who specifically to reach for help rather than leaving a generic message or having them press “0” for reception.
- Write Clear and Concise Emails: In your emails to clients, create simple summaries of the issues you are responding to, your recommendations and next steps.
- Deliver Bad News Immediately: Too often, lawyers wait to deliver bad news until there is a solution in place. Instead, let your client know that something did not go as planned, you and your colleagues are available to discuss next steps and you are working on a resolution. Then ask when they are available to discuss those recommendations and next steps.
Summer is upon us, so take a moment to think about the various interactions you have with clients and how you can do small things to make communications as clear as possible and make your clients’ lives easier during this busy time.