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6 Client Service Standards for Success

What is a service provider to do in order to attract the necessary client base to fuel a business? The provider must instigate a shift in mind-set from “you need me and my services” to “I need you and your continued business.”
By Garnett Bandy

IT IS A CULTURAL SHIFT that can seem quite daunting for a law firm typically focused more on billings and results.

Consider, however, what keeps bringing you back to that restaurant or coffee chain that charges you slightly more than a competitor but makes you feel like the most important client there. It is often the employees who treat you with respect, ushering up such phrases as “my pleasure,” or “can I refill that for you?” You might have a good client base without an emphasis on superior client service, but you will not sustain it or get many referrals without adapting.
Improving customer satisfaction will help you increase revenue, reduce churn, improve client retention and create more referrals.

HERE ARE SIX CLIENT SERVICE
STANDARDS THAT CAN BE YOUR KEY
TO A SUCCESSFUL FUTURE.

1. DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF
Go beyond “best price” and offer true value for working together. Become the professional and trusted adviser that clients can rely on. Take pride in your firm’s commitment to client satisfaction; make yourself available and consistently communicate with clients. Consider client service training for all of your staff, including lawyers. Make your commitment to clients known through visual reminders such as plaques or a strong mission statement, and share both in-house and externally that this mission is what your firm is all about.

2. INQUIRE, TRACK AND MEASURE
Studies have shown that a satisfied client will tell a maximum of two people about great service; however, a dissatisfied client will tell a minimum of 11 people about bad service. To make matters worse, technology has increased these statistics with the ability to comment via email or by posting on blogs and social media. Still, a client does not have to say anything to be dissatisfied. As the saying goes, “what is measured is managed,” so ask clients to rate the service they have received and use that information as feedback for your staff. Fix the problem areas as quickly as possible. Continuously remind your teams of the long-term goal of achieving superior customer service.

3. MONITOR SERVICE ISSUES AND EXPECTATIONS
Sometimes neither client service nor communication comes naturally to legal IT or attorneys; yet, if they want to survive and thrive, they have to be able to do both. Continuous reiteration by management and ongoing training can help transform the typical law firm culture into a service culture. Conduct quarterly check-ins with your team regarding service issues and their ability to meet client expectations.

4. TALK LESS, LISTEN MORE
Clients often say the quality they appreciate most in a legal professional is that he or she “understands my business” and “listens.” By the same token, the number one complaint clients have about their contacts at a firm is a perceived lack of communication or responsiveness and a feeling of being out of the loop. Communicate often and remember that clients are both internal and external. Translation: All co-workers should be treated with the same respect and courtesy as a client, regardless of position or pay grade.

5. ENCOURAGE TEAMWORK
Each service provided should be understood by everyone across the board. A “not my job” attitude is detrimental to exceptional client service. Though each employee does not need to be an expert in every area, training on how to handle inquiries and how to redirect the client to the person best able to address his or her need is imperative. Rather than allowing people to point to someone down the hall or transfer a call with no introduction, ask each team member to apply a little personal service and try, at every point of contact, to make sure clients are in touch with the right person. This kind of customer service is remembered and appreciated.

6.REGAIN THE LOST ART OF HUMAN RELATIONS
In this era of texting, Facebook and other social media platforms, fewer and fewer verbal conversations take place. Phones should be answered promptly, professionally, consistently and with the proper tone. When a call is answered, the focus should be on four basic steps: greet- ing the client, identifying the firm, identifying whom the caller is seeking and presenting an offer of service. Repeating the other person’s name before the call is over reinforces a connection. Encourage face-to-face meetings as much as possible, and remember that each contact is a reflection of the firm’s culture. Continuously remind your teams to represent your firm well.

Handle with Care
Even if you employ these tactics, you can- not get customer service 100 percent right 100 percent of the time. What happens when problems occur? Research shows that customers whose complaints are satisfied will actually use more of your services than they did before the deficient service incident. Be sure your team has a system or protocol for handling unhappy clients, and take complaints seriously. Of course, you cannot offer a free dessert as restaurants do or an upgrade to first class as you find with airlines, but you can ask questions to make sure you understand exactly what happened and what the client expects in return. Doing your best to recover from the mistake is important to the success of your firm. Correcting mistakes and focusing on the six service principles outlined will differentiate you and your firm and ensure that your client views you as a necessity, and not just an amenity.

This article was first published in ILTA’s March 2014 issue of Peer to Peer titled  “Client Satisfaction” and is reprinted here with permission. For more information about ILTA, visit their website at www.iltanet.org.

 

Garnett Bandy

Garnett Bandy is a 20-year veteran of the legal facilities management and outsourcing industries. For the past 13 years, he has served as a director in both sales and operations for Document Technologies Inc. (DTI). For the past three years, Garnett has served as the National Director of Best Practices and travels across the country speaking on client service and providing leadership training for DTI’s 2,500+ employees. Contact him at gbandy@ dtiglobal.com.

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Filed Under: Featured StoriesMarketing

About the Author: Garnett Bandy is a 20-year veteran of the legal facilities management and outsourcing industries. For the past 13 years, he has served as a director in both sales and operations for Document Technologies Inc. (DTI). For the past three years, Garnett has served as the National Director of Best Practices and travels across the country speaking on client service and providing leadership training for DTI’s 2,500+ employees. Contact him at gbandy@ dtiglobal.com.

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