More from LegalJob’s guest blogger, Katie White, who talked with several rainmakers at big firms about effective client management.
To keep clients, you must communicate – send monthly or quarterly updates and answer phone calls and emails right away. Know their business and keep them informed about issues relating to their industry. And, be proactive – reach out and stay in touch.
Some specifics (what to communicate, how to communicate, and how frequent):
What to communicate
► Keep the client informed about the work you are doing for them, and the cost or your services so no surprises show up on their bills.
► Think about ways you can add value to your client’s business. It takes initiative to develop business. You have to do things for other people and develop the skill for recognizing what business opportunities are. If you can suggest solutions to the client’s problems, they will hire you to work with them. As in any relationship, think about what you can do for your client, instead of thinking about what the client can do for you. If you can help the client, do so, and it will come back to you.
● Keep up to date with developments in the client’s industry.
◉ Set up a system of Google or Wall Street Journal alerts to keep up with what is happening in the client’s business world – and with the competition.
◉ Research your client’s market and competitors – offer your client information they don’t know.
◉ Make business suggestions to the client based on what you can find out.
◉ Keep the client informed about things that are pertinent to their business.
◉ Be on the look out for work you can refer to other groups in your own law firm.
● Keep current with developments in the client’s business.
► Send congratulatory notes to the client when something really great happens in their world.
How to communicate
► What are some of the ways to keep in touch with clients?
● Send gifts at the holidays.
● Invite clients to social events you know the client will enjoy.
● Attend conferences and events where your clients will be.
● Take the client to lunch or set aside phone or in person visits (free of charge) to see how the firm is doing
◉ This may be an opportunity to talk with the client about the needs of the business generally, and see if there are other practices in the law firm that can support your client.
● Set up a system to track your clients and the follow up methods you plan to employ.
► How often should you stay in touch with your clients? Client contact is like dating – it depends on the particular person you are working with.
● If your client is someone who is always asking questions and wants a lot of feedback, you will want to be in touch more often.
● If the client has a more hands off approach, you should be in touch less often.
● Generally, however, meeting in person at least once a year is essential.