Taking good care of our firm’s clients is important to me. They’ve come to us during some of the worst periods of their lives, trusting us to help them, and give them guidance until they can get to better days. I can also vouch for the fact that our firm gets many word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied clients who have told their friends and family that we take good care of them. That kind of marketing is priceless.
- Keeping clients informed, even if we have to talk to our supervising attorneys, and then get back to a client after he or she has asked a question we don’t have the answer to. Also, calling back when we say we will, even if it’s just to say we don’t have an answer but are working on it, means much more to clients than not calling back at all.
- Asking clients frequently how they prefer to be contacted by the firm, and keeping this information up-to-date and noted where everyone can see it, preferably in a firm practice management system. Some of our clients don’t have computers, while others prefer email exclusively. Remembering how they prefer to be contacted makes them feel like you know them well, that you keep track of key details about them, and that you believe their needs are important.
- Helping gather information for the attorney to provide the services needed. Sometimes legal staffers are able to relate to clients in a different way, and get information clients may feel uncomfortable or uncertain about providing to an attorney. To be honest, some of our clients are a little intimidated by any lawyer, no matter how nice that lawyer is to them. They’ll ask for a paralegal, knowing that we will relay the information to the attorney, but perhaps feeling more comfortable chatting with a staffer. (In cases where they are being billed by the hour, many of them simply are being budget-conscious.)
- Drafting forms that explain common legal processes to clients. Because paralegals and other legal staffers may interact with clients more frequently on a day-to-day basis, they often know the typical questions that clients ask. For example, drafting a standard letter or form that the firm can send to clients, explaining the mediation process, is a great project for a paralegal. Also, patiently answering the same questions via telephone, even if the firm did provide a written FAQ to the client, is all part of the client care process. Sometimes people are anxious, and it’s not that they don’t really know the answers – they just want reassurance.
Although I’m human and have bad days like everyone else, I try hard to treat our clients like I’d want to be treated if the situation were reversed. And clients appreciate that. Sometimes new referrals even call me directly, saying, “My neighbor Mr. Jones said to call you about my work injury, because you were so nice to him when he was injured on the job.” I’ll say, “You know I’m not the lawyer, right?” And the caller will respond, “I know you’re the paralegal, but Mr. Jones said to call you.” Telling their friends to call me is one of the highest compliments I can receive from a client.
Paralegals and legal staffers are an important part of an exceptional client experience – and they help create that excellent word-of-mouth marketing that every firm needs.