Good communication is so valuable, yet it’s sometimes easy to miss just how much it matters. But whether it’s with your family or your staff, clear communication helps keep relationships strong—and the same holds true for your clients.
Below, we break down a few tips for stronger client communications.
Reply within a day
We all understand that prompt replies are appreciated. Still, amid a busy schedule with competing priorities, it’s natural to put off non-urgent questions to meet deadlines or complete other essential tasks.
The problem, of course, is that while lawyers have many clients, those clients typically only have one lawyer. As a result, responding to client inquiries may not seem like a priority to the lawyer, but it can make or break the relationship for the client. And those clients are typically asking questions when something unusual—or even stressful—is happening in their lives.
Therefore, it’s always a good idea to return client calls or answer questions within twenty-four hours of the client reaching out. You may have seen some version of their question thirty times before, but they don’t know that.
Replying promptly won’t just increase your clients’ overall satisfaction. It will also help them feel more invested and partnered in the legal work they hired you for—in turn ensuring that they will respond promptly to you. And we all know it’s easier to work with a client who’s committed to the legal partnership.
Hand-in-hand with prompt replies to client inquiries comes setting accurate expectations. When you onboard new clients, be sure to discuss who they should reach out to with questions, the best way to contact that person, and what to expect for a response timeline.
Likewise, communicate clearly about when you will be available. Whether it’s a perspective informed by movies, the importance of legal work, or the cost of hiring a lawyer, many clients are under the impression that lawyers work around the clock. But that’s a recipe for burn-out that can negatively impact your ability to do your job well.
So be sure to use the on-boarding process to set clear expectations around when you’re available and the best way to reach you.
Recognize communication goes both directions
A key tenet of quality communication is that both parties aren’t just talking but actively listening to one another. Your clients will generally listen to you, provided you don’t confuse them with lots of legal jargon. After all, they’re paying you for it.
But you must listen to them, too. As mentioned above, it can be tempting to take a client inquiry less seriously if you’ve heard it many times before, but it’s still important to listen to the question. After all, in their own way, clients are experts in their personal situations. And while some of their comments may already be familiar to you, others may involve helpful information or insights into their industry.
Automate standard communications
While it may initially sound counterintuitive, it can be helpful in the long run to automate certain standard communications.
Why? It saves you time to reinvest elsewhere, perhaps by responding to a particular client question.
Repetitive tasks, such as a welcome letter or sending standard new client paperwork, are great opportunities to automate and get back a little of your team’s work hours. The same holds through for other, repetitive work such as drafting invoices.
That said, it’s not a good idea to automate everything. For example, if a client reaches out with a unique, personal question, it’s good for your communication and relationship to respond in kind.
Good communication builds positive relationships
Good communication is a “soft” skill that may not always show immediate—or objectively measurable—results. But it’s the foundation of solid relationships, whether at work or home.
Build positive relationships with your clients by replying promptly, setting expectations early, listening to what they have to say. and using your practice management system to automate non-personal communications—saving you time to put back into areas where it will make a real difference.