We have been conducting client interviews on behalf of law firms for more than 20 years now, and many things have changed significantly in that time. But when asked what matters most and what defines excellent outside counsel relationships, one theme remains consistent: communication. While every client has personal preferences and unique dynamics, all clients want efficient, effective, proactive and insightful communication.
When a client raves about a lawyer, team or firm, the praise often relates to communication habits, approaches or capabilities. Conversely, when a client is frustrated with a relationship, it is often due to poor communication. Improving your communication with clients is one of the easiest things you can do to make a meaningful, positive impact on the relationship.
Consider these small steps to start improving communication:
- Dedicate 10-15 minutes every day for outreach to check in with select clients and start building a habit of proactively picking up the phone instead of waiting on client communication.
- Consider adopting BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) for your emails with clients to make communication more succinct and efficient.
- Dedicate 5-10 minutes at the end of status calls to share insights you have obtained from other client representation.
- Acknowledge emails and calls as quickly as possible and clarify when you will have time to meaningfully respond. Clients appreciate you have other demands; radio silence is not the solution.
- Reach out when you don’t have active matters to keep the relationship connected and remind clients you care and think about them beyond when they are paying you.
- Ask your clients for their preferred communication. Even clients you have been working with for years will appreciate a clarification on how to effectively communicate best with them.
- Share communication preferences with everyone who works on the file to deliver consistent communication from everyone at the firm.
- Challenge yourself to stop procrastinating. The weight of all the little (and big) things you need to do causes unnecessary stress.
We live in an industry that prides itself on being busy, overwhelmed and going in many directions at once. The pressures on lawyers to do more grows every year, and for the last few years, working at home has blurred work and non-work lines. But being thoughtful with your communication is not a heavy lift. Small things make a big difference when it comes to client communication.