Last Chance to Register for 7 Steps to Building Better Client Relationships

Last Call to Register for “7 Steps to Building Better Client Relationships”

Join me for a CLE on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 about how to cultivate your network, balance client expectations, proactively control social media content, meet client needs, and become more client-centric by exploring the 7 steps to building better client relationships:

  • Capturing better clients
  • Polishing communication skills
  • Advancing client service through technology and staff
  • Managing social media
  • Improving client satisfaction
  • Strengthening client retention
  • Renewing relationships

Topics include how to CYA the right way, how to say “no” gracefully, dos and don’ts when responding to negative online reviews, how to thank clients as part of your everyday, the simple six-step process to stay in touch, and why you should modernize fee arrangements and billing.

Date/Time/Location

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time. This is a live, online webinar.

Who Should Attend?

Lawyers, office administrators, or staff – anyone interested in building better client relationships.

Group Discounts

Discounts available to firms who wish to register 5 or more attendees. Contact organizer to arrange a discount code before registering: beverly@oregonlawpracticemanagement.org.

Does the Program Include Written Materials?

Yes. Written materials are distributed electronically with your registration confirmation.

Ask Questions/Live Polling

Questions are welcome during the live event. Attendees are also encouraged to participate in live, anonymous polling.

Registration Fee

$25 – Visit the Upcoming CLE page, click here, or choose the Register button below. Secure payment processing powered by Eventbrite. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Program materials included in the registration price.

Eventbrite - 7 Steps to Building Better Client Relationships

MCLE Credits
1.50 practical skills pending.

Can’t Attend?

Video and audio recordings of 7 Steps to Building Better Client Relationships will be available to download along with the program materials following the December 6 CLE. Price: $25. Contact me or visit my online CLE store after December 6.

All Rights Reserved [2017] Beverly Michaelis

Missed Opportunities

Are you missing out on opportunities to grow your practice, improve client retention, or expand marketing?  quoteBefore you rush to answer, “No, of course not!” take a little time to reflect….

First things first: What am I talking about and why should you care?

In this context, a “missed opportunity” is an opening where you could have done something, but didn’t. The “something” could be complicated and expensive, which is a justifiable reason to let the opportunity pass.  But more often than not, the “something” is easy and free (or very low-cost).

Missing out on a free or inexpensive marketing opportunity that takes minimal effort is practically criminal.  And with that statement, I’ve answered my other question: why you should care.

Simple, no-cost marketing opportunities

A simple, no-cost marketing opportunity is any opening where you can leverage existing client communication to your advantage. Consider these examples:

Better client closing letters

The typical closing or disengagement letter conveys fairly perfunctory information: “Dear Client, I’m done.  Here’s my bill.  I’m closing your file.”

If you don’t mind missing out on marketing opportunities, continue sending routine, mechanical closing letters.  If you prefer to leverage this existing client communication to your advantage, do the following:

  • Take three extra minutes to humanize and personalize your closing letter.  Show appreciation for something the client did or said during the case.  “I know it was tedious to sift through all the pages of discovery we received, but finding (the smoking gun) completely changed the outcome of the case.”  “I know listening to the testimony of (defendant) wasn’t easy by a long shot, but you kept your composure and it paid off.”
  • Close the door on the task at hand, but not on the client.  Invite the client to call you ANY TIME he or she is in need of help.  Even if it isn’t your area of expertise, you can be the conduit to other lawyers who can assist the client.
  • Cross-sell other areas of practice.
  • Ask for and invite referrals.
  • If you use eNewsletters or Constant Contact marketing add the client to your mailing list (or extend an invitation).  [For a comparison of email marketing services, see this review on attorneyatwork.]
  • Consider enclosing a client satisfaction survey.  More on this next.

Client satisfaction surveys

Are you meeting your clients’ needs?  Or do you assume that client needs are met because you haven’t received any complaints lately?

If the latter is true, it’s time to screw up your courage and start sending out client surveys. A well-written client survey will quickly let you know what you’re doing right and what you need to improve.  Send them with your closing letter, or shortly thereafter.

For free resources and samples, see this post.

TREAT clients well: before, during, and after representation

After slaving over emails, pleadings, contracts, and billings – the “tangibles” of your law practice – you may be surprised to learn that clients place higher value on timeliness, responsiveness, empathy, and assurance.  This phenomenon is encapsulated in the TREAT approach to interacting with clients.  Following the principles in TREAT costs you nothing, but makes a huge difference in how clients perceive you and your firm. Read about how to use TREAT before, during, and after representation in this post. [Online client intake can be managed with services like Lexicata.]

Thank clients for referrals

Nothing says “I take you for granted” more than failing to thank your client for a referral. In reverse order of preference:

  • An email or text is okay, but can come across as cold or aloof to some clients. Use this approach only when you know it fits within the client’s milieu.
  • A handwritten note or card is a nice touch that stands out – hard to imagine any client who wouldn’t appreciate it.
  • A call is even better.  Over the phone the client can hear your tone and true appreciation for the referral. Use this chance to reconnect.  “How are you?  How is (spouse’s name)?”  Yes, it is always possible the client may share news that isn’t 100% positive, but the point is to stay connected.  You may learn that the client you were calling to thank also needs your help.
  • A call followed by a handwritten note may just be the one-two punch of all “thank yous.”  Yes, it involves the most effort and also takes a bit of expense.

Remember: the point here is to thank the person who thought enough of you to send a friend or family member your way.  Keep that in mind when you choose how you’re going to thank clients.

Parting thoughts

This is just a start.  Look for other opportunities in everyday practice to build client relationships, improve client retention, and leverage marketing.

[All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis]

 

Effective Communication in 3 Simple Tips

A must-share post from our friends at NW Sidebar:

Communicating with others is critical for becoming a successful lawyer. Doing it right is as easy as these three tips:

  • Listen actively to build trust
  • Understand differences
  • Appreciate and adapt to how others think

Read the full post here.

 

Learning the Ropes 2013

Are you new to private practice? Then I have just the ticket for you!

Attend our three day conference – Learning the Ropes: A Practical Skills & Ethics Workshop – for a mere $65.  Attendance at the full program satisfies the MCLE requirements for new admittees’ first reporting period.

Choose from these concurrent sessions:

  • Domestic Relations or Criminal Law
  • Tort Litigation or Estate Planning
  • Civil Motion Practice or Bankruptcy
  • Creating a Firm or Joining a Firm

Can’t decide?  All tracks are recorded for later viewing at no charge.

Plenary sessions include:

  • How to Develop a Successful Practice and Avoid Legal Malpractice
  • Client Communication and Other Practice Management Survival Tips
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • The Ethics of Practice Management
  • Recognizing Child Abuse and Fulfilling Your Duty to Report
  • Negotiation Tips, Tricks, Traps, and Tools
  • Courtroom Do’s and Don’ts
  • Employment Law and Conscientious Communication
  • Bridging the Cultural Gap

Day 1 includes a “Meet the Judges” luncheon.  Day 2 features a networking luncheon with bar leaders and respected practitioners in the fields of Appeals, Criminal Law, Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Business Litigation, Debtor/Creditor Law, Estate Planning, Litigation, Business Transactions, Elder Law, Family Law, and Real Estate.

All meals, including the luncheons, are included in your $65 workshop fee.  The program is at the Oregon Convention Center November 6-8, 2013.  Register here or visit the PLF Web site > Upcoming Seminars (under the heading Loss Prevention – CLE).  Sign up early.  Space is limited!

Copyright 2013 Beverly Michaelis

Demandforce – Appointment Reminder Solution for Lawyers?

My first experience with Intuit’s Demandforce came in the form of a text message from my vet’s office. I received a reminder about an appointment and was prompted to confirm. I remember thinking: this is pretty neat! Veterinary staff later confirmed that clients universally appreciated the appointment reminders generated by this service. (Some did not care for the social campaign piece and opted out.)

This made me wonder: should lawyers use an automated appointment reminder service like Demandforce? Professional services are certainly targeted on the Demandforce site… but what about confidentiality?

  • Demandforce retains log files
  • They may disclose information in response to a subpoena or legal request:
    Demandforce may disclose, access, or report personal information when we believe, in good faith, we’re required to do so by law or to protect our legal rights. We may also do this in connection with an investigation into a suspected violation involving a Terms of Service, fraud, intellectual property infringement, or other activity that may be illegal or expose us to legal liability. For example, we may be required to disclose personal information to cooperate with regulators or law enforcement authorities or to comply with a court order, subpoena, search warrant, or law enforcement request.
  • Encryption and site intrusion detection software is used to protect sensitive information
  • Consumers (your clients) are given an opt-out with each communication
  • Suggestions, ideas, enhancement requests, feedback, recommendations (collectively, Feedback) or other information provided by the Customer or any other party relating to the Service belong to Demandforce.
  • The customer (lawyer using the service) retains all right, title and interest to any and all patient or customer data including consumer review data captured by the … system … subject to Demandforce’s right to use such Customer Data to provide the Service to Customer. (Paragraph 3, Terms & Conditions)
  • Demandforce does not own any Customer Data, information or material that you submit to the Service in the course of using the Service. (Paragraph 5, Terms & Conditions)
  • For medical professionals – Demandforce is HIPAA compliant
  • Personal customer information (information belonging to the lawyers using the service) may be sold by Demandforce. Customers will be asked if they would “like to stop receiving promotional information following any change of control.”

Evaluating Third Party/Cloud-Based Services

Can a lawyer in Oregon use a cloud-based service? Yes – provided the lawyer follows the parameters of Opinion 188. How do you know if a cloud service is appropriate for your confidential client information?

  1. Review the Terms of Service, Terms of Use, or Terms & Conditions
  2. Review the Privacy Policy
  3. Review the Security Policy
  4. Fully investigate the vendor following the guidelines suggested by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center
  5. Ask questions: Who is my vendor? How will my data be stored and where? Who can access my data? Who owns the data I upload? What happens if the cloud provider goes out of business? For a great discussion, see Evaluating Cloud-Computing Providers.
  6. Get client permission. Add a provision to your fee agreement/engagement letter allowing you to send cloud-generated appointment reminders. This is also an opportunity to address communication by unencrypted e-mail, storing client data in the cloud, or use of a client portal.

All Rights Reserved (2013) Beverly Michaelis