Let them go

Share

You have an email subscriber who wants to leave your list. Let them go. In fact, encourage them to do so. If they’re not happy with what you’re sending them, why should they remain?

That same goes for you and me. If you’re not digging my emails, if you think I email too often and you can’t keep up, if you don’t want to follow any of my advice, there’s no point in you sticking around. And from my perspective, if you don’t “dig” me, you’re not going to buy anything from me, so there’s no point in keeping you on my list.

Let’s part friends. But let’s part.

That’s the proper attitude whether we’re talking about email subscribers, social media connections, networking friends, or clients. If one or both of you isn’t been served by the relationship, one of you has to let the other go.

If a client isn’t happy with something and you’ve tried to work it out but it’s just not happening, you have to let them go. It’s best for both of you.

Don’t let them storm off, however. Use a little finesse.

I would say, “It sounds like you might be happier with another lawyer. Would you like me to give you a referral?”

Why this?

Because it’s kick-ass posture. You’re not only suggesting they might want to work with someone else, you’re offering to help them find them.

It says, “I’d love to continue to work with you, but I don’t need your business. I want you to be happy and if I’m not your guy, I know other lawyers who might be a better fit for you.”

Confident. Strong. Successful. The very picture of a lawyer who is in demand and whose clients are fortunate to be with them.

Of course by saying, “You might be. . ,” the word “might” keeps the door open. You’re giving them a chance to realize that they might NOT be happy with another lawyer and realize that maybe the reason they’re not happy isn’t entirely your fault.

By taking the high road, not arguing, not trying to convince them to say, you’re confirming that you really don’t need their business. By letting them go this way, clients often realize they really don’t want to go.

Anyway, you can’t stop them from leaving, so don’t try. Let them go. It may be the best way to get them to stay.

Good client relations is your best marketing strategy.

Share

Client relations made simple

Share

What do you do when there’s a problem with a case? Do you email the client to tell them? Or do you call?

Calling is better, of course, because you can explain what happened, answer the client’s questions, discuss the options, and work together to find the path forward.

You’re not just delivering news, you’re having a conversation.

Your tone of voice tells the client how you feel about the issue. He’ll hear your concern and appreciate that you personally called. The client might still be upset or afraid, but being able to talk to you will help, even if he blames you for the problem. Actually, especially if he blames you because he can vent and then the two of you can talk about what to do.

Now, you probably know this and you probably use the phone when there’s a problem. The question is, do you use the phone when there isn’t a problem?

When you want to tell the client good news. When you want to ask the client a question. When you want to touch base with the client. Do you call? Even when you don’t have to?

The same dynamics exist whether you’re delivering good news or bad. Just as you want the client to hear the concern in your voice when you deliver bad news, you want them to hear the smile in your voice when the news is good.

If you’re not calling your clients, you’re missing out on an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them.

Call more, email less.

But, there’s something even better than calling. Whenever possible, meet with your clients in person.

Whether you have good news, bad news, or no news, getting face to face with your clients gives you an opportunity to bond in a way that cannot be simulated over the phone. Now only does tone of voice come into play, so do facial expressions, body language, and general interpersonal chemistry.

Find reasons to meet with your clients for coffee. Visit their business. Invite them to your office. And don’t charge for that time, even if you could.

Spend face time with your clients and when you’re done, send them an email saying, “It was nice to see you.” Or better yet, call.

Your clients are worth a fortune to you

Share

I’m like a peeping Tom

Share

I have a secret indulgence. I like to watch videos about building gaming computers and gaming desk setups. This wouldn’t be remarkable except I don’t play video games, I’ve never built or repaired a computer, and I know next to nothing about how computers work.

I just like to watch.

I find it relaxing. A mindless diversion from everything else I do.

Kinda lame, isn’t it?

Maybe not.

Some people read this and think, “Me too!” They love looking at water-cooled graphic cards and RGB lights and get a thrill out of proper cable management.

Some people like to watch cooking shows but don’t cook, or travel videos and never travel. Some have unusual hobbies, collect odd things, or do things that make the rest of us shake our heads.

And it’s all good. It’s all part of being human.

If you do something different like this, I challenge you to share it with your list. Let your subscribers, clients, and colleagues see a different side of you.

Some will say, “Me too!” They like to do what you do and will feel a connection to you.

Some will think you’re weird. Okay, maybe you shouldn’t tell anyone that you wear a Superman costume under your suit when you go to court.

But most people will appreciate your transparency and like you more for giving them a glimpse into what makes you tick.

So c’mon, out with it. Share your secret. I showed you mine, now show me yours.

Share

Stop telling clients you’re not in your office

Share

Your clients don’t need to know that you are away from the office. Or on vacation. They don’t need to know that you received their email, or be told that you will reply as soon as possible.

So why do you tell them?

Being accessible is important, especially when so many attorneys aren’t. But that doesn’t mean you should put yourself on a leash.

Away messages, vacation messages, and “I got your email” messages send the wrong message. They say, “I’m here, you can always reach me, and if I’m away for a bit, I’m sorry, don’t worry, I’ll be back soon.”

It’s bad posture. It says, “I need your business,” when in truth, the message you want to convey is just the opposite.

Your clients need to know that you’re good at what you do, you work hard for them, and if they have you as their attorney, they are very fortunate.

They need you. You don’t need them.

Most clients shouldn’t even have your personal email address. They should have an “office” email and know that it is monitored by someone who works for you. If a client writes, they need to know that someone will read it and reply promptly.

That someone probably won’t be you.

You want clients to know that you’re busy, in demand by other clients, and successful. Your time is extremely valuable and you have people working for you who do most of the front line communication on your behalf.

You’re there, behind the scenes, calling the shots. If your staff can’t help them, or there’s an emergency, they can reach you.

But your clients need to go through them.

Just like when they call.

Delegate more and you will earn more

Share

What’s wrong with this picture?

Share

Yesterday, my wife and I were speaking about some legal work we had done a few years ago. We had a question, the answer to which might lead to more work for our attorney. Unfortunately, we couldn’t remember his name.

We got lucky and found the old file and my wife called him.

He answered the phone himself. My wife explained the situation and asked the question. She said he didn’t remember us but he was very pleasant and helpful. He answered her question by telling her what we could do to handle our issue that would not entail additional legal work.

Nice.

Now, what’s wrong with this picture? What’s wrong is that we didn’t remember his name.

We didn’t remember because after he did the work for us, we never heard from him again.

Not a card, not an email, nothing.

If we hadn’t found the file, we might have called another attorney.

What if we did need additional legal work? What if we had a referral?

Some other attorney would get the work.

So, for the 298,304th time, do yourself a favor: stay in touch with your clients.

The simplest way to stay in touch is an email newsletter

Share

Mind your own bees wax, bub

Share

I emailed an author to tell him I enjoyed his books. I told him a bit about myself so he could see that we have some common interests and experiences.

We went back and forth a couple of times and then I did it. I gave him a suggestion about how he might change his work flow to improve his productivity. I offered this in a sincere effort to help, but as soon as I sent it, I regretted it.

He was clearly successful doing things his way and he hadn’t asked for my advice. He really didn’t know me. “Who am I to tell him what to do?”

I thought he would brush me off and I wouldn’t hear from him again. Instead, to his credit, he replied and explained why he does things the way he does them and moved on to another topic.

All is well. But the experience reminded me of the danger of providing unsolicited advice.

If someone doesn’t ask for our advice, we need to think twice before giving it. We think someone will appreciate our ideas or suggestions but too often we alienate them or insult them with our “superior” knowledge.

I’m not saying you can’t share ideas or suggestions with people. Just be careful about how you do it.

Instead of telling them they “should” do something, you might turn it into a question. “Have ever thought about. . ?” Or put the advice in the mouth of others: “I hear a lot of people are having success with. . .”

Don’t tell, ask. Don’t push, mention.

You can also get into trouble providing advice when people ask for it. Just because a friend asks for your opinion, it doesn’t mean you have carte blanche. Some people really don’t want your opinion. They’ve already made up their mind and they want you to confirm that they’re right.

With clients, you’re not going to win hearts or minds by pointing out that they made a bad decision or that they should have listened to you the first time. If they messed up, the odds are they know that and are expecting you to give them a hard time.

Don’t do it. Don’t lecture them or try to make them feel bad. Find a way to let them save face or just talk about what to do next to fix the problem.

Calm, cool, collected. The voice of reason.

There are times when you need to let that go and put some fire into what you say. If you see the client about to go off a cliff, it’s your duty to do whatever you can to wake them up and get them to listen.

Raise your voice if you have to and tell them the facts of life. Go over your reasoning again. Put a CYA letter in front of them and ask them to sign it, to protect yourself, of course, but also for dramatic effect, to let them know that they are about to make a serious mistake and to get them to reconsider.

Sometimes, you have to take the risk of alienating a client and losing them. Let’s face it, if they don’t listen and they get hurt, they’ll probably blame you anyway.

Who would make a good referral for you?

Share

Don’t fall for this email scam!

Share

AT & T is my wireless carrier. Last night they sent me an email asking me to take a survey. I usually decline these things because I’ve been burned before by survey requests that promised to take only a few minutes but went on endlessly, but in a moment of weakness, I clicked and answered the first (easy) question.

Things quickly got real.

If you get the same email, don’t open it.

It’s a trap.

They’ll ensnare you in a bottomless pit of questions, asking you to decide between a four and a five, a six or a seven, and you’ll wind up clicking anything just to get to the next question, and you’ll swear you’ve already answered that question twice, but no, they’ll ask it a third time, and after what seems like twenty minutes, you’ll either give up and close your browser or berate yourself for getting suckered yet again.

They’ll tempt you to play their insidious game. They’ll tell you they depend on you, they’ll offer to enter you in a drawing, they’ll make you curious about what they might reveal.

Resist. Start another Netflix episode. Or close up shop and go to bed.

I can’t imagine that the companies that conduct these surveys get much useful information out of them. I suspect that most people who start them never finish, and the ones who go all the way do so because they’re not crazy about the company and want to vent.

They do these surveys, I suspect, because they think it will make them look good to shareholders.

There’s nothing wrong with surveys, per se. They can provide valuable feedback and you might put one together for your clients. If you do, remember that a survey is as much an opportunity to engage with your clients as it is a way to guide your next move. So if you do it, don’t alienate them with one of these monstrosities, make your survey short and sweet.

Promise it will only take 30 seconds, a minute or two. And keep that promise.

Ask a few questions, not every question you can think of.

Make it easy for them to choose by asking things like, “Of these two options, which one do you prefer?”

And when the survey is done and you tally up the results, share those results with your clients and subscribers. Let them see that you really do value their feedback and appreciate them for taking the time to help. They’ll feel good about responding and be more likely to do it again the next time you ask.

Because a survey is as much an opportunity to engage with your clients as it is a way to guide your next move.

Where is your next referral coming from?

Share

The most valuable skill in a lawyer’s tool chest

Share

You may not be the best writer or speaker. Your trial skills may not win any awards (or big verdicts). You might be just okay at managing your team or your money. But you can be amazingly successful in your practice if you master this skill.

Actually, it is a set of skills, usually referred to as “client relations”. Which encompasses a lot of things, big and small, but boils down to the ability to make people like you.

Think about it, a prospective client comes to see you. They have a problem. They’re nervous about their case and nervous about you. Can you help them? Are you honest? Will you charge a reasonable fee? Will you be nice and friendly or mean and scary?

All these doubts and fears swirling in their head, making them even more nervous as they open up and tell you about their situation.

Within minutes, they feel better. Relieved. Encouraged. They like you. And trust you. And feel confident that you can help them.

And they hire you on the spot.

Or they don’t. Because you don’t have this skill. In which case, all of your core legal skills, experience, and reputation don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

Once the client hires you, they see that you are attentive and work hard to serve them. They see that you appreciate them. They come back to you. And tell others about you.

Or they don’t. Because you didn’t continue to earn their trust or make them feel appreciated.

We’re in the people business and client relations is a set of skills that can make or break your practice. Like any skills, they can be learned.

You can learn how to make people like and trust you. You can learn how to inspire loyalty. And if you’re already good at these things, you can learn to get better.

And you should. Because if you want to build a successful practice, no other skills are as valuable.

Learn how to make people like and trust you

Share

Satisfied clients are a dime a dozen

Share

Do you have satisfied clients? That’s a shame. You could do so much better.

You don’t want clients to be merely satisfied. You want them to have a big smile on their face and be excited (or relieved) they found you. You want them enthusiastically singing your praises to anyone who will listen.

You don’t want satisfied clients. You want fans.

A satisfied client will recommend you to friends and neighbors if they are asked for a recommendation. A fan will go out of their way to talk you up and pass out your cards.

In building your practice, one of your primary objectives should be to make your clients fall in love with you and your firm. One way to do this is to surprise and delight them by giving them more value and service than they expect.

Clients expect competent work, good customer service, and reasonable fees. If this is what you deliver, you’re probably not getting as many referrals as you could.

We just had some minor repairs done on the exterior of our house. Cracks patched, trim painted, a new side door, and so on. Although I know we got a good deal on the work, I couldn’t believe how much we had to spend for “minor” repairs.

When the job was done, the workers showed us some “extras” they had done at no additional charge, things we had originally passed on because they weren’t absolutely necessary and because we were already spending more than we had intended.

The dollar value of these extras couldn’t have been more than a few hundred dollars, but the gesture made a huge impression on us.

We got more than we expected. We felt better about how much we had spent and we were eager to tell others about the company.

Sure enough, as we were taking another look at the work, our neighbor from across the street came over. He said he needed to get his house painted and wanted to know if we were happy with this company’s work.

What do you think we said?

We said they did a GREAT job and we would DEFINITELY recommend them.

He asked for the contractor’s card.

We would no doubt have recommended them without the extra “surprises” they provided. But we went a step further and “sold” our neighbor on “our guy”.

If anyone else asks us for a recommendation, we’ll recommend them. But we’ll do more than that. When we hear that someone needs work on their house, we won’t wait for them to ask if we know anyone, we’ll make sure to tell them about our guy.

That’s the difference between a satisfied client and a fan.

Now, here’s what I want to know. I want to know if the contractor instructs his employees to “find” extras that need doing and do them, gratis. Is this his standard policy, because he knows the value of giving clients more than they expect?

If it is, that might explain why our guy has hundreds of five-star reviews and his competitors have so few.

Here’s how attorneys can get more five-star reviews and more referrals

Share

Some clients are more valuable than others

Share

Have you ever considered starting a loyalty program for your practice? That’s where you reward certain clients with a discount, a free service, or some other benefit, to thank them for their loyalty and to give them an incentive to continue.

This won’t work for every practice area. But you could use it for PI, real estate closings, and for many business matters. Don’t immigration lawyers offer a “family discount”? Don’t estate planners offer a better deal on A/B trusts?

But you have to be careful. You don’t want to position yourself as a “discount lawyer” or be seen promoting a “frequent suer club,” after all.

One way to handle this is to only tell clients after the fact. At the end of a case or matter, tell the client about your policy so they know if they hire you again, (perhaps within the next six or 12 months), they’ll get some kind of a benefit. Or, wait until they come back with a second matter and tell them then.

You can also surprise them when you send your bill. The client expects to pay $3000 and gets a bill for $2500, for example, with a footnote or a handwritten note in the margin explaining why.

The point is that some clients have more business to give you and it makes sense to court them. A loyalty program is one way to do that.

How to use your invoice as a marketing tool

Share