The focus on recording and billing as much time as possible each day has made lawyers and accountants some of the most time sensitive people on the planet. Its interesting then that more emphasis isn’t placed on the value of our client’s time as part of our marketing strategy.
We all know how frustrating it is to be kept waiting. Client surveys by service firms continually rank “timeliness” or “responsiveness” in the top five factors for client satisfaction. More detailed analysis shows that clients, particularly those in personal service areas, are more annoyed by simple stuff like how long they are kept waiting than they are by the fees charged.
If you can show your clients that you value their time as highly as you value your own they will appreciate it, even if you can’t always be there the instant they arrive.
Here are some quick suggestions
- Be realistic about your appointment times. Better to set it 15 minutes later at the outset than to have the client waiting for 15 minutes.
- Be precise about times for returning calls. Don’t give false expectations with: “She’ll call you back as soon as possible.” when you should say: “She’s in a meeting and won’t be able to return your call any earlier than…”. If that’s the case there may be other options.
- Take responsibility for the return call. If you’ve made a commitment to the client about a return call and you know it can’t be met – make sure someone calls to give an update.
- If clients do have to wait – keep them occupied:
- A range of reading material – preferably from this century!
- Clean, quality toys for children
- A TV fixed to a news channel
- Tea, coffee, water, biscuits
- Interesting, educational firm publications
- For new clients, ask them to complete a “client details form”
- If your client’s most often call during particular times ensure you have the phone reception resources in place to meet demand.
- Check your hold music. Some firms have been known to go months without realising the continuously looping cd player has died.
- Record how long clients are left waiting in reception or on hold. But don’t use this to beat up the practitioner. Consider how your processes or systems might make it easier for the practitioner to be ready on time. Avoiding back to back meetings by scheduling 15 minute gaps may make a big difference.
- ALWAYS acknowledge when the client’s been kept waiting. Pretending it didn’t happen won’t soothe your client – but an apology might.
- Lead from the front! If it’s your firm and you want your staff to treat your client’s time like it’s a precious commodity you must set the example.
The good news is that most of these suggestions can be implemented quickly and easily. A little bit of your time spent demonstrating that you value your client’s time – will go a long way.
If you have any questions or concerns about this topic – you know who to ask.