Don’t you love it when someone else is genuinely interested in your success? We all do. And we all know when interest is genuine, as opposed to when it’s self-motivated and faked. Genuine interest is tremendously appealing, while self-serving is off-putting and even alienating.
Are you interested in your clients’ success? You don’t have to tell anyone but answer honestly. Depending on your practice, that interest could mean anything from a years-long involvement at the most intimate business levels to a deep interest in a limited aspect of your client’s experience that’s followed with well wishes, a farewell, and rare-to-occasional follow-up contact. If your answer is lukewarm, that’s a sign that something is out of alignment, and it deserves attention.
Assuming your answer is yes, you are interested in your clients’ success, the question becomes, how do you show your clients that you’re interested in them? When interest is genuine, it tends to flow naturally. Because life is busy, though, you’ll likely find it helpful to come up with some ways that you can demonstrate that interest. A few examples:
- Communicate. The number one complaint about lawyers is the lack of timely communication, and knowing what matters to your clients and when and how to convey that is both a professional responsibility and a way to demonstrate your interest in your clients.
The value of client communication was perhaps most vividly demonstrated in the early days of COVID-19 shutdowns. Some lawyers reached out to their clients to see how they were doing, if they and their family were safe, how they were balancing work and having children in virtual school, and so on. Some reached out again later to see if clients needed help with PPP loans or otherwise working to secure the survival of their business. Some made sure to check in periodically as things changed, on a personal as well as a business level. Imagine how those relationships developed. Imagine how relationships with other lawyers who didn’t reach out fared in comparison.
- Use your clients’ services and products whenever possible. Even if your representation is not business-related, patronize your clients. One lawyer I know makes a special effort to host lunches at a client’s restaurant. Another of his former clients is also his insurance agent, and he purchases gifts from another client’s yoga studio. You might question how much this matters, but imagine how you would feel if you discovered your lawyer hosted a staff luncheon at other restaurants in town but not yours.
- Where appropriate, promote your clients’ business to others. The lawyer I mentioned in the previous example does this each time he brings someone to his client’s restaurant or sends out a gift from his client’s yoga studio. That’s a win/win—even more so if it’s appropriate to mention the client connection.
- Look for opportunities to provide extra value to your clients. This might be business-related, but it doesn’t have to be. Anything from identifying a trend that might benefit your client to recommending an accountant or contractor counts. You know all those recommendations to circulate useful articles you read? That’s another example, when done well. The measure is what your client will find valuable. (And a hint here: business clients often receive news and updates from more than one attorney. Be sure yours stands out by making it personal in some way, rather than the same form that’s being sent to others.)
- Watch for news about your clients, and respond appropriately. If you have a low-volume practice, place Google Alerts on all of your clients; if not, place Alerts on a selected number of high-priority clients. (Either way, be sure that the results are filtered or sent to a non-primary email address.) Celebrate good news, offer condolences, or extend a helping hand.
These are just a few examples of how your actions reveal your interest (or lack thereof) in your clients. The best methods, of course, are the ones that are most genuine for you and the ones that have the most positive impact on your clients. When you act from a genuine and appropriate interest in your clients’ business and personal success, you join your clients’ team. That tends to create client satisfaction (maybe even client delight), recurring business, and referrals, and it also tends to become an enjoyable extension of your practice.