2009. aug. 6.

Ten Rules of Client Service

MATT HOMANN @ thenonbillablehour

(Matthew Homann is a lawyer, mediator, blogger and entrepreneur who’s an innovative and passionate thinker about changing the practice of law in ways that benefit both lawyers and clients.

Described as an “Innovational Speaker,” Matthew shares innovative billing strategies, creative marketing techniques, proven customer-service principles, and cutting-edge ideas from other industries and professions with lawyers to help them tap into their own creative reserves and make dramatic improvements in their businesses and their lives.

Matthew is the founder of LexThink LLC.)

Quick, name your favorite customer service class from law school. Can’t do it? I’m not surprised. Most lawyers don’t learn much about client service in school, and the only class that touches upon service at all is Legal Ethics -- which is kind of like teaching someone to ride a bike by showing them lots of bicycle accidents.

By delivering great service, you can delight your customers, increase their satisfaction (and reduce malpractice exposure), cut your marketing budget and turn your clients into your best salespeople. And because many of your peers believe something as simple as returning client calls is optional, the bar to delivering the best client service in your community is set pretty low.

Here then, are 10 simple “rules” to help you remember that it is your customers who keep you in business, and when you work to delight (instead of frustrate) them, you’ll both be successful.

1. Just because clients don’t expect great service from lawyers doesn’t excuse you from providing it.

2. Don’t assume you’re great at service because your current clients don’t leave. Many remain your clients because they fear their new lawyer will treat them just like you do.

3. It costs less to delight a client than it does to frustrate them. You pay to delight them once, but you pay for frustrating them forever.

4. It is also far cheaper to compete on service than it is on price, because there will always be someone far cheaper.

5. People tell others about service they receive, not competence they expect. Ever heard someone brag about how clean their dry cleaners get their clothes?

6. The time clients care about isn’t yours, it’s theirs. Build your practice to save them time and they’ll be less reluctant to pay you for yours.

7. Though you might be measured against your peers in a courtroom, when it comes to service, you’re measured against everyone. If your clients named the top ten places they get great service, would your business make the list? It should.

8. Eighty percent of your time should be spent on satisfying your clients’ expectations and twenty percent should be spent on exceeding them.

9. You can’t measure how you’re doing when you only ask how you’ve done. Improving client service begins with learning how to serve your current clients better.

10. If your clients can go months without hearing from you, they can go forever without recommending you. To lawyers, indifference and incompetence are two different things. To clients, they are one in the same.

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