3 Ways to Inspire Confidence in your Clients
We all want our clients to trust our ability to help them achieve their desired resolution in their case. We also want them to trust our judgment, that we are making calculated and strategic choices and that we are advising them to do the same in working towards that end. So how do we make sure that we are leaving our clients feeling confident that we are up for the task?
Be straightforward with your client about the likelihood of achieving their desired outcome. If the client understands the risks involved and is still ready to sign your retainer agreement and pay for your services, hopefully you have forged a relationship that will be mutually beneficial.
If you don’t think the case is a worthwhile pursuit, do not accept it. It is not always a pleasant conversation to have because clients often feel very impassioned about their perceived wrong. There’s a saying – “you never regret the case that you don’t take.” If you know off the bat that this client’s case is a long shot, speak up. While the client will likely be disappointed, they may thank you down the road for saving them hundreds if not thousands of dollars for speaking up instead of chasing that wild goose.
If you believe the case has a chance, let your clients (or potential clients) know the potential roadblocks that you foresee and an estimate of the cost of overcoming or detouring those roadblocks. If you are working on an hourly basis, you may want offer to do research or preliminary work at a set cost to see if this matter is something that is going to pan out. While this may not be the trajectory the client believed his case would take when seeking out your services, they will appreciate your honesty. A client never wants to feel like you took their money when you knew from the start that pursuing their case would be extremely costly or unlikely to produce their desired outcome.
If you’re working on a contingent basis, you’re bearing the risk of loss because you ultimately won’t be paid for the hours that you spent pursuing that case. You’re making an investment in that client’s case, which means that you believed that there was at least a chance that it would be successful. Clients often ask if pursuing their contingent-fee case is a waste of their time. I let them know that I spend a lot of time and effort to ensure the best results possible. If I’m unsuccessful, I receive no pay for that case. Therefore, it does not behoove me or my firm to accept cases just to accept cases; there must be at least a glimmer of hope that that case could be successful. And for good measure I remind them that I cannot promise any outcome or result.
Ultimately, candor in your interactions with your clients will go a long way showing your client that you are not trying to pull the wool over their eyes in any way and ultimately build a foundation of respect and trust, which is certain to inspire confidence.
It is difficult to stay in constant communication with your clients. If you were, when would you get their legal work done?!? But there is nothing more frustrating than trying to reach someone who dodges your calls or doesn’t answer your emails. It seems that the less accessible you are, the more the client calls. The client then loses confidence that you’re doing anything on their matter or that they are important to you. Make sure that your clients are informed of both the timeline of their case and your office communication policies to avoid any complaints. When you are accessible to your clients, they can have their questions answered and their concerns assuaged, which results in confidence that you actually are working for them rather than letting their case collect dust.
What’s going on in your practice area? Are you participating in practice area specific organizations, following blogs and keeping up with recent case law? Have any of your cases created favorable case law? Are you contributing to any publications? Are you a board-certified specialist? Consider how some professional development can inspire confidence in your clients.
Clients want to trust that you understand not only what they are seeking to achieve by bringing their case to you, but that you are up-to-date on the current developments in the law and how these may impact a case. More importantly, you should be able to translate your knowledge to clients in an informative, non-condescending manner. Clients also want to trust that they have hired the best possible attorney for their case. Bolstering your own knowledge is good for your clients, and ultimately your practice.
Client confidence is important to keep and maintain, as it directly impacts your reputation in the community. It is also determinative of whether your client will come back for other matters in the future, or if they will refer their friends and family to you. By being straightforward, accessible, and in-the-know, you are more likely to inspire confidence in your clients, which is vital to both your relationships with clients and the future of your business.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success.