Make the first impression a positive client experience

1 May, 2015

A client’s initial approach to a law practice, whether by phone, email or in person, is their first touch point with the practice and first opportunity for the firm to make a positive impression. The importance of these early interactions should not be underestimated, clearly in terms of marketing but also from a risk management perspective.

The telephone manner of the practice’s receptionist, the tone of the email enquiry response, the appearance of the practice’s reception area, the service provided when the client arrives and the attitude of the practitioner in the first meeting or on the first phone call all contribute to the client experience and gives a new or potential client their first impression of the firm.

Making a good first impression is good business management as it gives you the best chance of converting enquiries that are literally on your doorstep into retainers. It also sets the relationship with the client off on the right foot and builds goodwill between the firm and the client making it easier to work together and achieve the right outcome for the client.

A client’s negative first impressions could cause the retainer to be off to an unhealthy start with them dubious about the quality of service they will receive from the firm. These feelings can persist throughout a matter resulting in an array of problems and may also cause the client to believe the firm did not deliver value for service they paid for.

At least one consultancy has applied the concept of the ‘mystery shopper’ to assist law practices assess the experience of their clients. The consultancy’s staff pose as potential clients making enquiries of the firm. They usually speak to various people at the firm including principals, lawyers, paralegals, receptionists and other support staff. Some enquiries are also made in person as ‘walk-ins’. The consultancy then reports to the practice’s management on the experience of the mystery clients. CXINLAW is one consultancy that provides this service.

We encourage law practices to put themselves in the shoes of new and potential clients. Some issues to consider are below.

  • Does your practice have clear protocols for how enquiries from potential clients are to be handled?
  • How responsive is your practice to these enquiries?
  • To whom are the enquiries referred?
  • Do the people handling the enquiries have an appropriate manner and adequate training to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves?
  • Are your practice’s reception area, meeting rooms and staff likely to instill confidence in a client that their interests will be looked after capably and professionally?
  • Are new clients first met by a principal or a person with appropriate experience and seniority?