Thank you

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A prospective client hires you. You send them a welcome letter, thanking them for choosing you and assuring them you’ll do a good job for them.

Well done.

What about prospective clients who don’t hire you? Or who meet with you and haven’t yet decided to go forward? Do you send them anything, a thank you note for meeting with you and considering you?

You should.

Not only is it good manners, it is an easy way to show people your character and professionalism, and convey to the would-be client that you want to work with them.

Smart job candidates send a thank you note after their interview with a recruiter or hiring manager. When a prospective client meets with you, they’re interviewing you for the job, aren’t they?

Send a letter, an email, or both. Tell them you appreciate being considered, say something positive about something they said or about their case or company, showing that you understand their situation and believe you can help them.

You might consider a hand-written thank you note because few people do that anymore.

Actually, few lawyers send a thank you note of any kind after their first meeting with a prospective client. That’s another reason you should. It is a simple but effective way to get prospective clients to put you on their short list.

Thank you for reading this message. I appreciate that you took a few minutes from your busy day to read my words. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you.

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RIP Grumpy Cat

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Grumpy Cat died. You know, the cat with the down-turned mouth who looked like he was perpetually in a bad mood. The cat who inspired hundreds of Internet memes?

Yeah, that Grumpy Cat.

Question: when you’re a grumpy cat, what do you do about it?

You shouldn’t be around clients when you’re in a bad mood. It’s bad for business. Nobody likes a Debbie Downer.

Your employees might give you a little slack (because they have to), but they’d rather not have you in the office when you’re wearing the weight of the world on your shoulders.

When you have a sad or you’re feeling mad, what do you do?

Put on some music? Actually, that’s a good idea. Listen to some tunes that lift your spirits, or listen to some music that makes you sad–for some reason, that works, too.

If music doesn’t fix you up, if you’re still feeling like Lucy took your football, you’ve got to fake it. Pretend you’re in a good mood. Act as if.

Put on a (fake) smile and soon you’ll be smiling for realz.

If music and fake smiles don’t help, if you’re really bad off, leave. Flee the scene. Go home, go to a movie, go do some retail therapy.

Get out of the office for a few hours and get your head right.

Grumpy Cat was cute. Grumpy Lawyer, not so much.

How to get your clients to send you more referrals

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Who stole my client?

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You know how some clients just stop calling? One day they’re here, the next day they’re gone, and you don’t know why?

Sometimes, another lawyer lures them away. More often, the client wanders away on their own.

They were unhappy about something. They had a problem–with you or your staff–and decided it was time to go.

If only they had told you about the problem–you could have fixed it. You could have prevented a small issue from becoming a big one. Made amends. Made them happy.

But they usually don’t tell you. They just leave.

What can do about that?

How about this:

When you sign up a new client, tell them their happiness is important to you and that if they ever have any problems with you or your staff, any issues or complaints or unanswered questions, you want them to tell you about it.

If they will do that, you promise to fix it. No ifs, ands or buts.

And ask them to agree that they will do that.

Good, right?

Hold on. One more thing. Put this in your retainer agreement and get the client to initial it.

Your new clients will be glad they chose you as their attorney. They will see that you are serious about “customer service”.

And if they ever do have any issues, they’ll be more likely to talk to you instead of leaving without saying a word.

Marketing is easier when you know the formula

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Danger, Will Robinson

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I have two Dell computers. The other day, I dutifully updated some of the bits and pieces Dell’s “Support Assist” app told me I needed.

Today, I saw an article telling me that the older version of the SupportAssist Client contains “a remote code execution vulnerability” and should be updated immediately.

Yikes. I don’t how serious that is but I realized I’m not sure what version of the app I have, so I checked.

The desktop (my newer machine) tells me I’m up to date. The older laptop wasn’t. I downloaded the current version and now, all is well.

Why didn’t Dell automatically update the app on the laptop? Why didn’t they notify registered users to watch out for this issue? Why did I have to “get lucky” and find out about it from PC Magazine?

I don’t know. But now I know about the issue and so do you.

Even if you don’t own a Dell, many of your clients do and you may want to give them a heads up. They’ll be glad you did.

If they don’t own a Dell, they’ll like the fact that their attorney cares enough about them to tell them about this.

When it comes to client relations, little things are big things. 

How’s your website?


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Ask your clients this ‘million-dollar’ question

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Years ago, New York Mayor Ed Koch used to walk up to people on the street and ask, “How am I doing?”

Really.

He learned what his constituents thought about the job he was doing and was able to use some of that feedback to make improvements.

He also scored points for being open to feedback, something most politicians usually run from.

Anyway, you can do something similar in your practice, but instead of asking your clients, “How am I doing?” ask them this question:

“On a scale of zero to ten, what is the likelihood you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

You could ask this at the end of the case, before they leave your office. You could email a survey question. Or you could have someone call them on your behalf.

However you do it, follow up (by phone or email) and ask,  “Why did you give us that score?”

You’ll get some interesting feedback, I’m sure. You’ll also plant a seed in your client’s mind about recommending you. If they give you a high score, i.e., a high likelihood that they will recommend you, they will be psychologically more likely to do that.

Nice.

A simple, one-question survey (plus follow-up question) is easy to implement and could bring you a lot more business.

You could instead ask, “On a scale of zero to ten, how would you rate the quality of our legal services?” Or, “The next time you have a legal issue, on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest, what is the likelihood that you would choose us as your attorney?”

So tell me, on a scale of one to ten, how would you rate the quality of this post?

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula.

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Three’s Company

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Last night I watched a “Where are they Now?” video about the old TV show, “Three’s Company”. It was good to see some familiar faces and how they looked today, and sad remembering how young John Ritter was when he left us.

In the comments, someone asked, “What was the name of the bar they always hung out at?”

Do you remember?

Jack and Janet and Chrissy went there a lot. They met up with Jack’s friend, Larry. Sometimes, Mr. and Mrs. Roper showed up. And Mr. Furley. (I loved Mr. Furley. I loved everything Don Knotts did.) 

I haven’t seen the show in decades but of course, I remembered the name of “The Regal Beagle”.

Anyway, it was good remembering a show that provided so many laughs and a simpler time. The beautiful women didn’t hurt.

Oh, do you remember the time Jack fell over the sofa. . .

Anyway, my point isn’t to confess that I spent too much time watching TV back then. It’s that if you have some of the same fond memories of Three’s Company, you and I have something in common and if we were having this conversation in person, we would bond over those memories.

When you meet someone for the first time, sharing a memory or a common interest can do wonders for getting everyone to relax and feel good about each other.

If I walk into your office for the first time and see you have a chess board on your credenza, you and I are going to have something to talk about. I like you already. Unfortunately, we may not get any work done.

Popular culture–TV, movies, books, sports, games, the news (be careful that one, however), are all fodder for finding common ground with people we meet.

They’re also good subjects to put in your blog or newsletter.

What’s on your blog?

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Are you coddling your clients?

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Saw an article about raising mentally strong kids. The upshot: “Science says stop telling them ‘everything will be OK'”. Let them make mistakes and feel uncomfortable. That’s how they learn and grow. 

Overly protective parents aren’t doing their kids any favors. Neither are overly protective attorneys. 

Telling clients everything will be OK when we really don’t know this to be true sets them up to be disappointed and to mistrust us.

No, we don’t want them to worry unnecessarily. And yes, they pay us to do most of the worrying for them. But most clients, I think, want us to respect them enough to be candid with them.

Let them see what’s going on–the risks, the problems, the possible outcome. Don’t try to downplay the fees.

Our clients are adults. We should assume they can handle the truth.

We don’t need to bludgeon them with the truth, however. We should be measured when we present our evaluation of the case, gentle when we deliver bad news.

Like children, clients look to us for emotional clues. If we are calm in the face of trouble, they are more likely to be the same.

Bottom line: tell them everything and don’t let them see you sweat.

I built my practice with client referrals

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R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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Suppose your first name is David. And suppose you’re in a semi-public setting and someone you’ve met before comes up to you and says, “Hi David.”

Do you think, “Nice. He remembered my name.”

We like hearing our name, don’t we? Dale Carnegie told us “A person’s name is the sweetest sound.” The late Herb Kelleher made a point of remembering and using the first names of his employees, and they loved him for it.

Research tells us that hearing your first name activates different parts of your brain than hearing the names of other people. “Adults never tire of hearing their name,” the researchers said.

But hold on.

What if it’s a young person addressing you and you’re old enough to be their father? Or they’re a client and you’re their attorney? Or you’ve just spoken on stage and someone in the crowd comes to ask you a question?

Wait, one more. You have a new secretary and, day one, she calls you by your first name. 

I’ve had all of the above happen to me. When they do, I’m thinking, “How about a little respect? How about asking if it’s okay to use my first name?”

But then I’m old-fashioned. Or a stuck-up pain-in-the-ass, take your pick. 

I was taught to respect my elders, say please and thank you,  smile when you meet someone and pay attention when someone else is talking.  

You know, manners. 

Be nice if more people minded their manners and showed people a little respect.

But then I’m old-fashioned. Or a stuck-up pain-in-the-ass, take your pick. 

Want more referrals? Of course you do

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I know you’re a good lawyer, I just don’t like you

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Some people say you can build a successful career even if you’re not well-liked. There may be some truth to that. If people respect your abilities and track record, they may hire you (or refer clients to you), even if you’re a Grinch. 

On the other hand, I can’t see how having your clients and professional contacts like you could ever work to your disadvantage. 

So, likable it is. 

Now, some people are naturally likable. They’re friendly, easy to talk to, and make people glad to be around them.

The rest of us have to work at it. 

We may get things right often enough, but there are times when we’re tired, facing a crazy deadline, or distracted to the extreme. While we may generally be a nice person, sometimes, the mask we wear says otherwise. 

So, in no particular order, here are 6 ways to make yourself more likable.

  1. Be interested. Make eye contact, pay attention (don’t take calls), listen, don’t interrupt, don’t yawn, take notes, repeat back the points you hear them make. 
  2. Be interesting. Talk about books you’ve read, movies you’ve seen, stories you’ve heard, that are likely to be of interest to the person you’re with.
  3. Mind your manners. Say please and thank you appropriately and often. Ask them about their day. Offer them something to drink.  Don’t keep them on hold or waiting in your waiting room too long. Apologize when you blow it.
  4. Smile more. They’ll smile back. Make them laugh if you can, because it’s hard to dislike someone who tickles your funny bone. 
  5. Remember names and use them. ‘Nuff said. 
  6. Get more rest. So you can do all of the above. 

Make people feel good about themselves and they’ll feel good about you. 

More ways to make people like you

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Why am I not surprised?

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I just saw an infographic depicting “America’s Most & Least Trusted Professions”. Lawyers ranked near the bottom, just above business executives, car salespeople, and swamp-creatures, aka, members of Congress.

I’ve noted before that lawyers are an easy target. We do everyone’s dirty work and tend to make a lot of enemies, after all. And who doesn’t like a good lawyer joke?

But that doesn’t mean we should accept the world’s collective opprobrium. Neither should we single-handedly attempt to repair the reputation of an entire profession. 

Instead, we should take steps to differentiate ourselves. To show the world that we’re one of the good ones. 

We can do that, we must do that, by going out of our way to foster trust in the eyes of our prospects, clients, and professional contacts. 

This covers a lot of territory, everything from treating people better than they expect (or deserve) to be treated, to displaying the accolades and endorsements of others who vouch for us, to doing charitable work usually associated with good people, and everything in between. 

We should, of course, also refrain from the types of practices we know client’s dislike. Failing to keep clients informed about their case and charging for every little expense and every nanosecond of time are common examples.  

Another way to earn trust is to exceed our clients’ expectations. Giving them extra services, delivering better results, and showering them with the highest level of “customer service” not only goes a long way towards earning trust, but it can also stimulate a heap of positive word of mouth about you. 

In our marketing, we can build trust by showing our market how we are different or better than our competition. This can be as simple as providing more information than most attorneys do, or doing so in an interesting or entertaining matter. 

Finally, one thing we shouldn’t do is deny the fact that lawyers tend to rank low on the trust totem pole. Instead, we should acknowledge this fact and help people understand what to do about it. 

Educate your market about the standard of care, so prospective clients will know what to expect and demand. Teach them what to do when a lawyer doesn’t deliver.

And teach them what to look for when they are looking for a lawyer in your practice area. Give them the questions to ask and the answers they should get.  

Do this, and you will take a big step towards showing the market that you are indeed one of the good ones.

How to build trust and get more repeat business and referrals

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