Trey Ryder 2013-12-27 11:32:14
Clients And Prospects Forgive A Lot – When You Ask How quickly do you return phone calls? How long do prospects wait to meet with you in your office? You probably have aspects of your services or procedures that irritate clients and prospects. Phone calls are a good example. Even if you make every effort to return calls within 24 hours, some people expect (or at least, hope) you will return their call within 30 minutes. The point is few of your clients know what it’s like to run a law office. Almost none of them appreciate the demands on your time and the many priorities you juggle all at once. And, rather than seeing the positive things you do, many people choose to focus on the negative – the things you don’t do as well as you (or they) would like. If you know or suspect certain things get under your prospects’ skin, here’s a simple solution: Anticipate your prospects’ disappointment or frustration and ask for their understanding from the beginning. Some of my clients have generated literally hundreds of inquiries from a single newspaper article or a short radio advertising campaign. (One client drew 80 calls from prospects for each radio commercial he aired.) A single interview on a radio talk show drew requests from 426 prospects who asked for his information packet. This lawyer knew it would be impossible to send everyone an original cover letter with his packet and still get the materials into the mail promptly. So we decided to use a form cover letter that contained this paragraph: “I hope you’ll forgive my not including an original letter. I receive dozens of requests for my educational materials. And while I’d like to send everyone a personal reply, I simply can’t. You understand why, I’m sure.” By calling attention to what prospects might have perceived as a negative, we turned a potential negative into a positive simply by asking for the readers’ understanding. As a result, my client built a close, personal, trusting relationship with his prospects – and never sent anything more than a form letter. You might address return phone calls the same way: “In my office, I make every effort to return calls within eight hours. Still, sometimes this isn’t possible if I’m tied up in court or meeting with a client out of the office. I know you’re busy and can’t sit around waiting for my return call. So here’s what I suggest: Call my office, ask to speak with Jean, my secretary. Ask her to schedule you for a telephone appointment. She has my calendar and can set a time when I’m available to talk with you.” And so on. The result? You overcome any potential negative feelings because you (1) addressed the subject before prospects raise it, (2) asked for your prospects’ understanding, and (3) suggested an alternative way of handling the phone call so both you and your prospect benefit. Identify office procedures that you know or suspect might irritate clients and prospects. Then in the materials you send prospects and new clients, explain how you do things in your office – identifying any negatives and asking for your clients’ understanding. They’ll appreciate your raising the issues so they don’t put you under unreasonable pressure or have unrealistic expectations. Plus you’ll benefit by having clients who know you’re working hard to provide the best possible client service. If you fail to address potential negatives, then you risk disgruntled clients who think you’re ignoring them – or, worse, think they aren’t important enough to warrant your best service. But, when you ask prospects and clients for their patience, you may be surprised how kind and understanding they are. Trey Ryder specializes in education-based marketing for lawyers. He designs dignified marketing programs for lawyers and law firms in the United States, Canada and other English-speaking countries. Trey works from his offices in Payson, Ariz. and Juneau, Alaska. To read more of Trey’s articles, visit the Lawyer Marketing Advisor at www.treyryder.com.
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