Excellent customer service means customers are more likely to keep buying, more likely to advocate for your brand and it makes everyone feel nice so we are all aiming for excellence right? But what does good customer service actually entail? What do your clients really want? Here are seven key points that can really make you stand out above the rest (and maybe earn you a couple of 5-star reviews, too!)
1. Be patient
When you have been working in the same field for a while, it can be tempting to try and rush, especially if you have heard the same client stories over and over again. However, not everyone is going to be the same – even if they are coming to you for the same service. Don’t hesitate to truly spend time preparing for and working with those around you. This is also crucial in making sure your clients don’t feel ignored or patronised.
When it comes to understanding, it’s also important to listen to your client – whether they are new or returning. Active listening is about paying attention to an individual, instead of just waiting for them to stop talking so you can put a solution in front of them.
Too often complaints are made about law firms providing the service clients need, but not the service clients want. Whilst it’s easy (and comfortable) to think you know exactly what help you can provide before you get started, it’s much more beneficial and reassuring for your clients to let them speak, building up not only a better understanding of the service they require but a mutual trust. With that trust, they then know they can come to you with a problem, and you will listen (and help) to the fullest of your ability – rather than consider other competitors.
3. Solve the problem and keep an open mind
Typically, customers are focused on the output of any engagement – the result, the final product. It’s this final impression that typically sticks in a client’s memory. Whilst you might give the highest quality legal advice, plenty of individuals can take this advice for granted, and will be more concerned with the outcome - the resolution of the problem they come to you with - and how easily they can move on.
With patience and understanding, you can learn a client’s expectations of this outcome and manage them accordingly. Not only this, but you can look at this from their perspective and empathise with their reactions. Whilst you might be delighted with a settlement that’s never been achieved before, a client might still be disappointed.
Speed and open-mindedness are also key, here. For a stressed client, such as someone going through grief or divorce, quick responses and resolutions can make all the difference. Being flexible and sensitive to a client’s needs and wants for this outcome can also be the difference between “good” and “great” service.
4. Communicate often and clearly
Like any other relationship – communication is vital. Whether it is keeping in touch with friends or expressing your concerns to a partner, all relationships require clear and frequent communication – client relationships are no different. You may be tempted to fall into the bad habit of ignoring correspondence because you have no progress to report but this can lead to a client feeling out of the loop and neglected.
One way to improve communication is to use technology to the fullest – try keeping in touch with a client via an online dashboard, for example. This is quick and easy for you and can do a world of good to your relationship with the client. Most customers don’t need to know every detail of all the legal intricacies involved with their case, but checking in every now and again makes a client feel valued. As mentioned above, clients tend to be more focused on the outcome – the practical and the results, rather than the legal jargon and inner workings.
Clear communication from the very start of your relationship can also manage expectations; ask your clients how often they need to be updated etc. This can do a lot to prevent clients from feeling ignored further down the line.
5. Explain the costs and demonstrate your value
As part of communicating clearly, you should always be transparent about your prices. Being upfront about costs not only gives you an opportunity to gauge what about your service your clients value but further reinforces the relationship and trust between you.
Letting clients know how your costs are calculated, estimates of total fees, and billing with accuracy and timeliness are appreciated by all types of customers – even those who are less price-sensitive. Just like everyone else in our day-to-day lives, people expect value for money.
6. Meet and exceed client care standards
A great starting point for building your care standard is the Law Society Lexcel Standard for client care. It can help you identify policies and procedures you should enable to properly look after your customers.
However, you don’t have to stop there. Everyone who has ever been a customer will know that the dream is to work with a business that goes “above and beyond”.
Treat your clients as individuals, not as one steady source of income, and make sure that this treatment doesn’t just extend to a select group within your firm. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cater to an individual’s every whim and be available 24/7 – but to consider how your client is treated even when you are not directly involved. If you aren’t available, who can your client talk to? Don’t let them feel like they are trying to get through a brick wall or that they are leaving voice messages that are just left to disappear into the void. Exceed expectations by having a helpful, caring attitude towards clients throughout the business.
Whilst all the above is important when engaging with new clients, it is just as vital to get feedback from existing and even ex-customers. Outside of the law sector, it's standard practice to ask customers for a review.
Feedback not only can give you pointers on where to improve but can also help highlight your strengths, allowing you to better utilise them when engaging with new customers. It can also be useful to ask how your service compared to others in the legal sector that your client may have worked with previously.
Feedback doesn’t always have to be restricted to a review after work is said and done. Asking for feedback at key moments during your time with a client can create opportunities to vastly improve a customer’s experience before it is even over.
Always use this feedback as a chance to learn and do what you do, but better.
Need a condensed list to help remember these steps? We’ve got you covered. Here’s how to reach customer service bliss:
- Be patient
- Actively listen
- Solve their problem and keep an open mind
- Communicate often and clearly
- Explain the expenses
- Meet and exceed client care standards
- Pay attention to feedback
And don’t forget, if you ever need help, or want more insight into how we can help you impress and extend your reach to clients online, give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a ring on 0117 325 0200.