Clients still criticise the service they receive from many law firms. Tony Reiss of Sherwood suggests some tips for developing stronger client relationships.
1. Have what the Americans call ‘an elevator pitch’ – be able to say succinctly what you do and how you add value to clients (e.g. help them make money, save money, be more efficient, reduce risk, make their lives easier, reduce stress, hit their targets, etc, etc)
2. Find time to connect with people – partners should probably have a network of over 100 contacts. Have a list. Classify your contacts into your hot prospects and make these your A list. Have more frequent contacts, mostly face-to-face or on the phone, with your A list. Your B list are also important and you need to find ways of keeping in touch. Your C list are people you’d like to remember who you are. Every year review your list and promote or demote appropriately.
3. Think relationships, not just matters or cases – most clients value a human touch with warmth, teamwork, communication as well as a commercial approach. Celebrate successes. Find opportunities to get to know their whole team.
4. Focus on them and what is important to them – ask them at the start of a matter what is particularly important to them (e.g. speed of completion, not going over budget, having a partner attend key meetings, etc). We often make assumptions about these things and don’t always get it exactly right. Then ask them often ‘how are we doing?’. Hopefully they will tell you and you can correct anything that isn’t spot on.
5. Really know your client’s business and sector issues – find time to talk to key people, read the trade press, etc. Who are their competitors? What is their vision? Ask the client to discuss with you their strengths and weaknesses. Ask your client to review the opportunities and threats in the market.
6. Demonstrate that you are in ‘rapport’ with them and their values – acknowledge what you hear them saying and show you understand.
7. Tell your clients things they didn’t know – and help them look good in their organisations.
8. Get close to them to know their personal agenda –for example, do you know what they are trying to achieve in their careers? Do you know what their development areas are, as discussed in their annual appraisal? You may have to open up a bit to encourage them to do the same.
9. Exceed their expectations – if they expect something by Friday, try to get it to them by close of play on Thursday.
10. Introduce your colleagues – multiple relationships are stronger and will make it harder for other firms to win work from you.
But above all, manage the relationship so the client can see that your firm adds value.
For further information please contact Tony Reiss