A successful legal practice requires happy clients, and making clients happy starts with building trust. For lawyers, building trust with clients should be part and parcel of everything they do.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for how to build trust with clients, but the following guide for lawyers offers some helpful tips and tricks for building trusting, happy client relationships.
Communication is key. Building trust begins with communication. Clients want their lawyers to be reachable and available. When important matters and questions arise, your clients should have multiple means of getting in touch with you, be it telephone, email, or some more sophisticated means of communication like client dashboards or portals. It’s also not only about being reachable – you should be reaching out to your clients regularly and as soon as possible when you have information they need to know.
Listen, don’t just talk. It’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street. Lawyers are accustomed to delivering information and advocating, but clients also need to know that you’re there for them when they want to talk. Be open to fielding questions, hearing opinions and ideas, or listening to concerns when your clients want to share them with you.
Respond promptly. When your clients do ask questions, make it a priority to promptly respond. While no one can respond immediately every time – and clients will understand this – responding with reasonable speed is critical to building trust with clients. If necessary, set a routine for yourself for responding to clients. At the end of each day, make sure you’ve handled all urgent business and have responded to all your clients. If you need more time to formulate a full response, at least acknowledge that you’ve received their communications and will get back to them soon.
Manage expectations. You obviously want to provide the best possible service to your clients, but not every outcome will be favorable. It’s important to be honest with your clients and not over-promise on results you know you can’t deliver. If a client’s case simply isn’t strong, it’s critical to manage their expectations and not get their hopes up. This not only avoids dissatisfaction and disputes down the road, it also can lead to increased trust if you achieve results that are better than expected.
Know your clients. It may sound obvious that knowing your clients is important, but do you really know them? Providing the best client service – the kind the builds trust – requires knowing more than just the details that are immediately relevant to a given case. Clients want their lawyers to know about their business and industry and the issues that can seriously impact their livelihood. When you can offer industry-specific advice and proactively flag potential issues, clients will feel better about trusting you with their business.
Hone your skills. While lawyer-client relationships are critical to building trust, clients also still want to know that they’re being represented by highly skilled professionals. It’s important to stay on top of the latest legal changes and industry developments, so you can be sure you’re always offering the best client service and most up-to-date advice possible. Invest time in educating yourself on the issues that matter most to your clients. If you don’t, your competition will, and you don’t want your clients questioning if they would be better represented by someone else.
It’s impossible to build great client relationships without building trust. This guide for lawyers is just the start – listen to your clients and trust your instincts. Following these handy tips and tricks will have you well on your way to building trust with new and existing clients.