Practicing law is a very noble profession. Law paves the way for the rule of law, gives a voice to the voiceless, provides remedies for wrongs, and upholds the ideals that make nations great. Most people understand these things. Unfortunately, most people have negative perceptions of attorneys. Research shows that over two-thirds of the people agree with the statement, “Lawyers are more interested in making money than in serving their clients”. Many consumers believe attorneys are dishonest and corrupt. Remember, a person’s perception becomes their reality even when the perception is off the mark. Even if you may be completely honest and genuinely care about serving your clients, do new prospective clients know this?
“Your process continues to help me stay on task to improve the way I do business, remove clutter from my work day and get more accomplished. It also helps me not lose focus on what matters most to me which is my family, but to also figure out how to make time to do the things I want to do with my family. Lastly, the last session I went through focused on Marketing. I found that session particularly helpful to create a firm marketing plan to help myself and my partners develop new business and keep the clients we have.”
—Anne B., Attorney
What Are Your Top Challenges?
In addition to the issues that most other professionals and leaders face, law firms can also face some other specific challenges. Our experience shows that the below areas can prevent some attorneys and their firms from reaching their true potential and maximizing their overall satisfaction. Being completely honest, are any of the following ever a challenge or issue for you or your firm?
- Unhappy or Miserable Staff Attorneys
- High Turnover Rates
- Action Plans not Fully Implemented
- A Belief that Big Salaries and Bonuses are Necessary to Attract and Retain Top Talent
- Departing Staff Members Say Something Like, “Work quality standards were not met”.
- Employee and Firm Managment Weak
- Existing Culture of Fear and Intimidation
- Effective Leadership Weak or Lacking
- Client Frustrations or Dissatisfaction
- Client Satisfaction Surveys
- Partner and Staff Accountability
- Staff Business Skills Weak or Lacking
- Communication or Collaboration Weakness Between Partners, Staff and/or Clients
- Client Relationship Building Systems are Weak or Nonexistent
- Missing (or Weak) Referral and Alliance Partner System
- Workflow Inefficiencies
- Formal Sales Process Weak or Nonexistent
- Marketing Plans Aren’t Fully Implemented or Missing Altogether
Are You Seeing All The Money?
Research shows that one-third of the largest companies fire and drop their outside law firm every year! One of the top drivers for leaving the firm is “Service”. There is huge opportunity in the Customer Service area. The key is to keep it simple and have a culture of unparalleled customer service both internally and externally. A strong firm not only excels in servicing their clients but also in respecting the internal firm members by providing superb internal customer service. Just this one area alone can transform your firm creating significantly higher retention and growth. Even if you or your firm does not have high attrition levels, any attrition hurts.
Most savvy professionals realize that relationships are key to firm growth. When it comes to clients, 68% leave a business due to “perceived indifference”. In other words, they don’t believe their service provider cares about their business or them. This can easily be addressed using the right kind of client appreciation marketing strategies. And this is another cultural shift that impacts the entire firm dynamics and keeps your best staff around. People simply love to work at firms that do much more than just pay them a salary. We have strategies that can reignite excitement for every member of your team. When they wake up in the morning and are exited to go to work, you’re on the right track. No amount of compensation will ever create lasting, long-term commitments from staff members.
The quickest way to add to your bottom line is to plug the holes in your leaking bucket and lower your attrition rate. Even a 1% reduction boosts your profits. Do you know your annual attrition rate? Do you know what it’s costing you in bottom line profitability? Do you have business systems and processes in place that are increasing retention and accelerating new client growth? Do you have systems in place to generate more revenue from your existing client base?
“When I first heard about your coaching program, I was highly skeptical about the benefits it could provide my law firm. I am happy to report that the program has easily satisfied this cost/benefit analysis due to the positive changes I have made in my business resulting from thinking like an owner, as opposed to an employee. This change in mindset alone has already saved me a significant amount of time each day in my business. I have made tremendous strides in running my business as an owner rather than as an employee. Most importantly, your program has brought into focus for me just what is truly important to me: my faith and family. I would encourage any business owner to consider your program. It is certainly worth the investment of time and money.”
—Eric L., Attorney
Do You Receive Enough Complaints?
Attorneys often mistake a lack of complaining from clients as a sign of satisfaction. This can be an incorrect conclusion. Research shows that most clients won’t express their feelings of dissatisfaction with their attorney. Instead they just leave. More startling is that for every client who does give you an earful, research indicates there are 26 others you won’t be hearing from. And worse, on average each of those 26 will tell 10 of their friends and associates in extreme detail about their unpleasant experience with their attorney and the firm. That’s 260 people hearing how bad the attorney and firm are. And who knows how many of these 260 will pass along the information. This is all objective reality. And top performers deal in reality not in delusion like most of the population.
Some Common Client Complaints
Based on feedback from a variety of law firms, below are some of the frequent client concerns and complaints. There are several strategies we can provide you to effectively address these concerns and thereby reduce client loss, build long-term client loyalty, and increase new client referrals.
- Cost and Billing
- “It’s too expensive.” When a client makes a comment like that, it simply means they do not see and understand the full benefits and value of what they are receiving. Our sales process goes deep enough to easily correct this situation. Understanding personality types and increasing emotional intelligence scores will also vastly improve your ability to convince your client of your value.
- Lack of Response
- “It takes too long for my lawyer to get back to me.” This is another area that can be easily corrected by following our sales and communication processes. Most all attorneys are flat out busy trying to get all the work done. Creating a firm culture of reliability is invaluable. Waiting to the last minute to communicate with your client creates a client perception that their legal matter has been collecting dust until moments before the arrival of the deadline. Simply “doing what you say when you say you’re going to do it” will set you ahead of your competition. However, this is easier said than done. Proper client education and business systems enable you to consistently deliver on your promises.
- “The attorney made a substantial error.” We are humans. We are not perfect. We make mistakes. Most clients can handle the fact that a mistake was made. What makes them come unglued is how the matter is handled. The biggest irony we’ve found is that as crazy as it sounds, a mistake can be a great opportunity to improve and solidify your client relationship. And this eventually leads to more referrals from the client. Obviously if mistakes happen more than a couple of times your client is at risk and the relationship may become irreparable. If mistakes are common, then your firm needs to reassess it’s business structure, processes, and procedures. But when there are isolated mistakes made, we call these “moments of truth”. You can turn an upset client into a raving fan by implementing “moments of truth” strategies in your firm.
- Not Understanding The Clients’ Needs
- “Our lawyer does not have adequate expertise about our business or industry.” This complaint is much more common than you might realize. How do you correct this issue from ever occurring? Education through the right marketing strategies and systems. Marketing is about continually educating your network (clients, prospects, and referral/alliance partners) on all the supreme advantages and benefits of doing business with you, the reasons they can trust you, how you’re different from your competitors, and the results you provide.
- Conflict With One Of The Partners Or Staff
- “The lawyer on our matter was impatient, condescending, and didn’t listen to my concerns.” When this happens, the accused attorney rarely even realizes this is happening. Research indicates that some attorneys are not proficient at fully comprehending the relationship from the client’s point of view. Empathic listening to the client’s concerns can help offset this complaint. Improving communication skills (e.g. empathic listening) can in most cases eliminate this client complaint. Believing you respect them and are willing to understand their concerns translates into long-term, loyal clients who spread the word on how great of an attorney and person you are.
“I have been an attorney for more than 25 years and have previously owned several other companies. I have been working with Mark Eldridge and his program for a full year. The program is very successful. It is my personal and professional belief that any business owner or senior manager who attends the sessions, interacts with the other business owners at those sessions, and follows through with his or her action plan, will not only increase significantly the value of their company but their personal satisfaction with that company as well. I highly recommend this program.”
—Frank H., Attorney
To thrive against your competitors, individual practicing attorneys and firms must be different. For example, what’s your Unique Selling Proposition? Why should quality staff want to work at your firm instead of someone else? What is it about your culture that makes them want to work and stay at your firm for the long term? Why should your prospective clients choose you over your competitors? Are you really any different? Do you have marketing systems and strategies in place that make your clients want to tell all their friends and contacts about you and your firm?
We live in a time of fast paced, hectic lives and business. To maximize growth and potential, law firms can not fall into the trap of complacency. Consumers have many choices and law competitiveness between law firms is one of the fiercest of any industry. You must be different than the others. Personal development of attorneys (and their firms) has never been more important. Recognizing the immense value we can provide to the legal profession is the reason we’ve chosen to specialize in attorney and law firm training and coaching. These legal issues on this page are just the tip of the iceberg. We can provide you the training and coaching that will address these and most other challenges you’re facing either personally or in your firm.
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For profitable expansion of your business and career, contact Mark Eldridge at 402-881-8873.
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