Young Lawyers Journal
Never underestimate the power of the customer service code
by Susan Frankfort
I started my second career as a lawyer just after hitting age 40. After being an executive at a women’s clothing manufacturer, I went to the Massachusetts School of Law to become a lawyer. I did not know what kind of law I wanted to practice but I knew my previous skills as head of a customer service department would be invaluable. As a solo practitioner, the only contact clients have is with me. I love that my success rests on how I treat my clients because I know that I treat them better than anyone else.
Here are five very simple, common sense practices that young lawyers can implement to have a huge impact on their client. The results may seem intangible at first, but as your business begins to grow, you will be able to see the direct connection between how you treat your clients and an increase in business.
Be pleasant! Smile! (I cannot stress how much a relaxed, pleasant, helpful attorney makes it easy for the client to retain you.) If you are answering the phone, always smile before you pick-up. It makes a huge impact on how you come across to a prospective client. Let’s face it, if you are a solo practitioner, more likely than not, you answer the phone.
Call your clients back in a timely manner. Call your clients to update them on the status of their case; they just want to be informed.
Give the client a monthly status report on fee arrangements and retainer balances. I always update my invoices monthly and send out a status report to the clients. This way they are aware of how much of their retainer has been used and on what activities.
E-mail is a great tool that can save you time and money. You can even send draft files for review. Just ask each client about their preferences. Some are computer savvy, some are not. By using e-mail, a quick contact can be made to the client without taking huge chunks of time out of your day.
Look polished and dress sharply when you meet the client (especially for the first time). Clients want to believe that their attorney is successful. By looking the part, you can become that attorney!
By adhering to the “code” you will have an advantage over other attorneys who think it is acceptable to make the client wait and wonder. This “code” has worked very well for me in my estate planning practice. I know it can work in any type of law practice or firm. My goal when I first opened my solo practice in 2005 was to double my business each year. So far, so good!
Susan Frankfort graduated Cum Laude from Massachusetts School of Law at Andover in 2005. Susan opened her own practice in June 2005 concentrating in estate planning, wills, trusts, and deeds. She offers her clients flexible hours and the convenience of making personal house calls. She can be reached via e-mail.