Friday, November 6, 2009

Keep Clients Happy by Keeping Them In the Loop

Every case has its problems; some can be anticipated, others cannot. In their eagerness to maintain their credibility and be effective problem-solvers for their clients, lawyers frequently make the mistake of failing to inform clients of problems in an appropriate and effective manner, or of failing to inform them in timely fashion. Inevitably, you will find yourself at some point in time with the double headache of trying to appease an unpleasantly surprised and irritated client, and of trying to resolve the original problem.

Most clients need and want to be informed about the troublesome aspects of their case. Client-satisfaction surveys show that clients complain mostly that lawyers do not inform them about problems until the problems are so big they can no longer be ignored and that lawyers are unrealistic, usually minimizing problems and overestimating their ability to deal with them quickly and easily.

Clients dislike surprises, especially unpleasant ones. This holds true for small surprises, such as finding out at the last minute that a meeting was rescheduled, and for large surprises, such as suddenly realizing that the worst possible jury has just been impaneled for their trial.

Diminish the surprise factor by informing your clients of potential problems as soon as you begin working the case. Be upfront with your clients. Do your best to keep them in the loop as much as possible. Hopefully, you’ll avert most of those problems and your clients will be the more satisfied because of it.