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The most effective lawyers hit out of the park when it comes to client service. What do they know or do that others do not?
There is lots of good information out there about what clients want – whether it is industry specific, such as this article covering “What clients want from CPAs” or a bit more general, such as this article emphasizing the importance of carting to exactly what clients want.
This post synthesizes those articles and others by providing four must do big picture items to provide extraordinary client service. The steps are: (1) understand the client’s business; (2) solve current problems; (3) anticipate future problems and provide solutions; and (4) accommodate the client’s preferences. Note that the client can be substituted for the partner for associates working in law firms who may not consistently deal with outside clients.
1) Understand client’s business and industry as well as they do so you can really understand client’s “pain” as they refer to it in the sales and marketing world – the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. Some examples of possible action steps:
a. Know the history and culture of the client, including the current and former principals of the business and their     personalities and interests.
b. Understand the client’s industry, its competitors, and threats. Go to industry conferences and panel presentations.
c. Visit the client (even if at your own expense) to see how widgets or made or their service is provided. Get your hands dirty to the extent possible.

2) Solve current problem (and understand what a win is from the client’s perspective)
a. This item is related to accommodating the client. The client’s current timing, budget, and other considerations may dictate a preference for certain outcomes.
3) Anticipate future potential problems and provide solutions
a. Keep up with Federal and State congressional action (or possible action) and court cases that could affect the client and/or its industry.
b. Keep up with what the client’s competition is doing.
c. Keep up with the changing needs of the client’s customers.

4) As part of solving problems, act according to client preferences
a. Consider client’s budget and timing needs.
b. Communicate in manner and format in which client can understand and relate
i. Some clients want to get in the weeds with you; most do not.
ii. Some clients prefer e-mails, some prefer face to face, and others prefer phone calls and it all likely depends on the matter and current client circumstances.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Salvatore Vuono.

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