5 Tips to Deliver Exceptional Client Service
By Natasha Tucker
September 16, 2021 | 4-minute read
Client Services External Client Communications and Feedback
Tips shared in this article are based on internal client feedback interviews and discussions conducted by the author with companies in the oil and gas, chemicals, banking and telecommunications industries in North America.
Over the years, providing legal services has become increasingly competitive. Clients are discerning and, with more buying power, they can afford to pick and choose who they want representing them. It is no longer the case that providing legal services for a client once guarantees future business. To help keep your clientele coming back, here are five inspirational tips for delivering exceptional client services.
1. Care and Connection
Clients want to know they matter. Calling them regularly and having check-ins to say hello, having an informal lunch or grabbing a cup of coffee shows you care about them and their business. You do not need to make every call work focused. Instead, lead by acknowledging their accomplishments unrelated to work or by sending your congratulations on a major life event such as a new baby. Strong client relationships are built on genuine connection, not just transactions.
Furthermore, clear communication and responsiveness plays a fundamental role in building and growing relationships. Responding quickly to any questions or helping them through setbacks demonstrates that you are with them during the good and bad times. Never forget that clients are people first and foremost.
2. Trust and Honesty
Trust and honesty is the foundation of exceptional client service. Clients are looking for trusted advisors that go beyond what the contract says and who are not always on the clock. Delivering pragmatic and proactive advice that is in the client's best interest is the correct approach, even if it is not the answer they were looking for. Should mistakes happen, address the situation straight away and communicate what is going on and how it will be corrected.
To prevent miscommunication, ask for regular feedback — not just at the end of a project, but during it as well. This can improve the way you work together and build a deeper level of trust and client service.
Showing clients that you understand their priorities, pain points and industry trends helps to deepen the relationship, build trust, improve rapport and strengthen client loyalty.
3. Price and Value
For many clients, price is a sensitive subject, especially if they have to answer to their shareholders or board members about legal spend. Clients are looking for reasonable pricing with an element of flexibility where lawyers and other legal advisors are not constantly billing their time. Alternative fee arrangements such as capped fees are increasingly preferable as the client knows how much it is going to cost them and can budget accordingly.
In addition to clear, no-surprise billing, clients are looking for that added value whether it be expansion of legal knowledge via in-house seminars (for those with in-house teams), advice concerning upcoming legal changes, contact with public policy advisors or access to library resources.
4. Experience and Expertise
Experience and expertise go hand in hand. By demonstrating that your firm has in-depth knowledge of the required field, coupled with the right subject matter experts who can undertake the relevant work, is how you convey your knowledge and value to the client.
There is also a trend where clients are looking for cross-disciplinary expertise as well as technical excellence. Legal firms that work collaborativly across practices, sharing information or knowledge to benefit the client, have increased business opportunities. Firms that still insist on working in a siloed approach do not have the same level of client loyalty.
5. Team and Resourcing
Efficient and appropriate utilization of resources contribute to successful projects, not just for the clients but for the firm. When resource management is applied correctly, lawyers are not overwhelmed with their workload and can focus on their tasks. Junior lawyers are assigned simpler tasks so that senior lawyers are freed up for more complex matters. It also means that clients are not being unfairly charged.
Team fit is important and not to be underestimated. With the right selection of team members supporting the client, client loyalty is improved as they choose to work with you again and again.
The benefits of exceptional client service are plentiful and not just for clients. Showing clients that you understand their priorities, pain points and industry trends helps to deepen the relationship, build trust, improve rapport and strengthen client loyalty. Not only does it confirm to the clients they were right to choose you as their go-to provider, but it helps your firm identify opportunities for additional, future work and strengthens your firm’s brand.
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