Connecting With Clients: The Experts Speak
Google searches have an interesting and sometimes fun feature where you can begin typing in your search query and Google will try to guess what you’re going to search for based on what other people search for. Type in “Why is my girlfriend” and Google assumes you’re going to finish with “so mean?” Type in “How can I” and Google suggests “lose weight” and “make money” as the most likely completions of that sentence.
Type in “Why is my attorney” and see what google thinks you’re about to ask.
“not returning my calls?”
People hate their lawyers.
Recent studies and surveys show that over 50% of people don’t like their current attorney. Even as they are engaged in a legal matter, the majority of people report that they would not recommend their own attorney to another person or company.
When asked why this is the case, nearly 70% of the responses related to poor communication skills on the part of the attorney.
It’s not the fees. It’s not the outcome of the case. It’s how the attorney communicates with them.
What can we do to connect with our clients?
We reached out to attorneys who are known for “connecting” with their clients and asked for their advice. While we received a wide range of responses, they tended to fit into a few categories.
Category 1: Just do it.
Ron Pope of Ralston, Pope & Diehl, LLC.
Steve Lombardi of Lombardi Law Firm
Most responses fell into this category. “Just pick up the phone and call.” That kind of thing. And while it’s absolutely true, simply trying to generate the willpower to do something uncomfortable like calling a client who has no progress on his case can be challenging. Similarly, forcing yourself to be courteous to the endlessly annoying client whose fees are likely only going to total 250 dollars can be taxing to even the most ironclad of wills.
Luckily, a few attorneys gave some encouraging advice that can help motivate us to do the hard things.
Category 2: Stay in touch
Sonny Flowers of Hurth, Sisk & Blakemore
Sonny Flowers and others suggest that being available and personal is key to client happiness. Some attorneys suggest that one easy and effective way to do this is through social media. Even small-town attorneys find an additional new client every few months arriving through Facebook simply because they chose to be active and connected with existing and former clients there.
Category 3: Respond with nothing.
A few attorneys rightly pointed out that the main reason attorneys don’t return calls and emails is because they feel bad that they simply have nothing new to report. They don’t want the client to feel like nothing has been done, and they have little or no control over the status of the case as they wait for the next vital piece of information, so they avoid responding.
John Medler of Medler Law Firm
John Medler sums it up by saying “A client would rather receive a quick email saying, “Not much is happening right now because we are waiting for X to occur…” rather than [silence.]” The consequences of radio silence is guaranteed resentment and a sense that the client has no control over what is probably a very important event in his or her life.
Category 4: Get personal
While some attorneys openly reject the idea of getting personal with clients, there were a significant number who suggest that getting to know each client is not only essential for “connecting” with them, but can and does help the case, and grow the business.
George LaMarca of LaMarca Law Group
George brings up a great point in that getting to know all about our clients not only helps us connect but can help us build the best possible case. When many of the responses of disgruntled clients revolve around statements like, “He never took the time to really understand,” advice like George LaMarca’s is right on target.