What is the most common basis for a negative Google review? 90% of negative reviews are based upon lack of communication. Specifically, the client called the law firm on numerous occasions, but did not get a call back. The client feels that they are being ignored by their lawyer, and with no other recourse, they vent their frustrations with a blisteringly negative Google review.
Just look at the lowest rated Google reviews for any law firm. There is a common thread of the lowest rated reviews, namely, the law firm does not communicate with their clients. How many of your prospective clients want to be treated like a number? If you don’t think the lack of communication can crush your law firm—especially with negative Google reviews--you’re kidding yourself.
Never forget one thing: you are in the customer service business. Your clients assume they can get the same results from any law firm. What matters most to your clients is that you care about them and communicate with them FREQUENTLY.
6 Tips for Fixing Your System for Client Communication
Okay, you realize that communicating frequently with your clients is important, but what can you do to fix a broken system at your law firm?
#1: Client Care Advocate: Hire one person whose only job is to communicate with your clients (we call this person our “Client Care Advocate”). At least once every 3 weeks, your Client Care Advocate calls your active clients to say “hi” and see how they’re doing. During these impromptu phone calls, your clients will share information about ongoing medical treatment or share concerns about their case. If your client isn’t happy about how you’re handling their case, you’ll find out.
On birthdays, wedding anniversaries and holidays, your Client Care Advocate will send small gifts to your clients as a friendly reminder that you’re thinking of them. Your Client Care Advocate has carte blanche to send gifts as often as she wants. The small, impromptu gifts create a ton of goodwill with your clients.
Once finished with the phone calls to your clients, your Client Care Advocate will post updates about your clients in your case management software. With a Client Care Advocate working for you, your client communication system is operating like a smooth oiled machine…and you don’t have to do a thing.
#2: Give Your Cell Phone # to Your Clients: Okay, I realize that this cuts against the grain of all of the advice you’ve received about managing a law firm. Conventional wisdom is that you should insulate yourself from interacting with your clients and let your team members do the work. Turns out, this doesn’t work so great.
More than anything else, your clients want to know that you care about them. How do you show that you care? I give my cell phone # to all of our active and potential clients and tell them they can call me any time, including evening and weekends. Why? Because I want our clients to know that they matter to me. Truth is, very few clients take advantage of this privilege.
By granting unfettered access to your clients, you are different from the majority of lawyers who do little to communicate frequently with their clients. Your clients will know that you are different from every other lawyer and that you care enough to give access to your clients whenever they need you.
#3: Random Phone Calls to Your Clients: Fill out index cards with the names of your clients and their cell phone numbers. Whenever you have down time, e.g., a long drive to court, call 2-3 of your clients just to check in on them.
You might tell your clients, “Hey, just want to see how you’re doing and let you know that I’m thinking of you.” 90% of the time your clients won’t answer and you will leave a voice message, but it’s a nice way to show that you’re thinking of your clients.
#4: Call Your Clients on their Birthdays and Anniversaries: Enter your clients’ birthdays and wedding anniversaries as annual reminders in Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar and call them on these important dates. This works like magic.
Everyone loves a phone call on their birthday. Your clients will be effusive in their gratitude, e.g., “I can’t believe you remembered my birthday. My own mother forgot to call me.” This personal touch will go a long way and there are no other lawyers doing this.
#5: Throw a Client Appreciation Party: Connect with your clients with a Client Appreciation Party. Just pick a date and location and invite all of your current and former clients to a party. The party can be dinner or light food and drinks. Doesn’t really matter what you do, just that you do something.
A Client Appreciation Party is a great way to connect with your clients on a social basis and get to know their families. Nothing beats a Client Appreciation Party in terms of creating goodwill with your clients.
#6: Customized Gifts for Your Clients: When you have a strong, personal bond with a client, you might try to show your appreciation for them with a customized gift.
When their case is resolved, take a photo with your client and have the photo framed and gift wrap the framed photo. For special clients, you might hand-deliver the gift to their home. Some of your clients will hang the photo in their kitchen as a frequent reminder of the special bond that you have with them.
A Confession from Yours Truly
Will these client communication tips work for you? Have to admit, I did not do most of this stuff until the last 3 years when I realized that my firm’s client communication system was broken. I realized that rather than having less interaction with our clients, I needed more.
Does this create more work for me? Of course, but I also have a much more personal relationship with our clients and it doesn’t take long for me to find out if our clients have a complaint or concern. Because of our strong personal relationships with them, our clients are willing to overlook our flaws and imperfections (we’re far from perfect).
Looking at our firm’s 355 Google reviews, you won’t find any complaints about the lack of client communication. Perhaps these unconventional tips for client communication are worth a shot for your law firm.