Kerrie Fuller explains how excellent customer service is the key to growing
RightNow research says that as many as 89 per cent of consumers started purchasing from a competitor after experiencing poor customer service. In a competitive legal services market, how can you stand out and not only attract new clients but also keep the existing ones happy? The answer is excellent customer service - so here are 10 ways to make clients fall in love with your firm.
1. Be genuine
Don't be a nameless or a faceless business - interact with your clients as a person representing your firm and address them by name. Make sure they know your name in every dealing they have with you (face to face, email and telephone) and talk to them as you would in person when communicating with them over the phone or by email. If you use social media, keep the personal touch here too.
TIPS: If you smile when you speak, it comes across in your voice over the telephone.
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2. Show a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T
When faced with an unhappy client, the trick is to respect their mood while discussing the issue calmly. Keeping your patience gives them the space to air the problem - in most cases, they just want someone to listen and acknowledge that there is a problem. You may not be able to solve it, but ensuring that the client feels comfortable and reassured when things go wrong helps to retain their loyalty, while you work on preventing similar issues from happening again.
TIP: Count to five slowly when someone has finished talking to stop yourself from leaping in with a comment.
3. Listen carefully, I shall say this only once
Every good business collects feedback from its customers. After you have dealt with a client, why not ask them to complete a satisfaction survey? When you receive their feedback, do any of their suggestions for improvements seem reasonable and could they be actioned? By truly listening to what your clients think would improve your business, you will learn volumes.
TIP: A simple evaluation form sent out by email through a service like SurveyMonkey is anonymous and quick to complete.
4. I can't get no satisfaction
Your clients need to know that you are their first port of call for advice. Why not set up a scheme for regular clients and offer a discount? Offer an incentive to existing clients if they refer you to their friends and family. These techniques encourage repeat business and customer loyalty.
TIP: Give a few business cards to your clients and suggest they keep them in order to give out to others if needed.
5. Put it there, partner
Without clients, your business cannot exist - therefore they are your most important stakeholder.
How can you make your clients feel valued and involved - can you send them regular information about how the business is doing? Any awards it has won? Any cases that have received local media attention? Building a following on Twitter and other social media channels will help others to feel like stakeholders in the success of your business.
TIP: Set up a monthly e-newsletter to keep stakeholders in the loop.
6. Trust me, would I lie to you?
Keeping clients informed when things happen, both good and bad, is essential. This is even more essential when bad news makes the headlines - are you able to be honest and truthful about how those events happened? In order to keep your brand trustworthy, you need to be open and honest in your dealings with clients wherever possible. If you are making changes to your fees, be upfront about them - don't let clients read the small print in order to find out, you'll look like you have something to hide.
TIP: Get rid of the small print!
7. I can see right through you
We talk a lot about transparency in business. Essentially this means that you are not afraid of feedback, you have nothing to hide and you like to have conversations with your customers. If you can encourage this culture throughout the business, from the receptionist to the managing partner, clients will want to work with you in place of your competitors.
TIP: Put your annual report online for clients and potential clients to see (you can create a special public-facing version).
8. Under promise and over deliver
Set realistic timescales and expectations in order to build client trust. If you say you'll get back to them by the end of the week, do so. Being dependable is a cornerstone to a good client relationship. By under promising and over delivering, you will keep client satisfaction at a maximum.
TIP: Put reminders in your diary of when to give clients an update.
9. The customer is always right
Creating a customer service policy for the business ensures consistency. It should contain: phrases for your company to use that'll make your clients happy; following-up rules for how frequently you should stay in contact and how quickly enquiries should be responded to; and how to deal with client complaints.
TIP: Look online for best practice examples of customer service policies.
10. Thank you very much
We underestimate the power of 'Thank You'. Gratitude for a client's business is a great way to cement the relationship. Make sure your Thank You is personalised and relevant to the client.
TIP: Buy a stock of Thank You cards so you have a stack ready to go when you need them.
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