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Customer Service 101: Keeping Your Clients Happy (and on Retainer)

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD | Last updated on

Whether it was Marshall Field, or Harry Selfridge, both men are credited with coining the phrase "the customer is always right." Everyone these days has heard the phrase, but how many of us actually put it into practice?

For busy lawyers, it is easy to get sidetracked, and forget that ultimately, we are in a service industry -- we need to keep our customers happy. Here are some ways to brush up on your customer service skills and ensure that your clients keep coming back to you.

1. Listen

This may seem elementary, but actually listen to your client. When your client is speaking, maintain eye contact. Yes, you'll have to take notes -- that's fine. But, avoid doing things like constantly looking at your watch, looking distracted, and rummaging through piles of paper.

2. Be Polite

All those lessons your mom taught you as a toddler are still relevant today. Hello, goodbye, please and thank you go a long way. Don't cut off your client when they are speaking, and simply be nice to your customers.

3. Under-promise, Over-deliver

We try to live by this credo in all matters of life because, quite frankly, low expectations make you end up looking like a superstar. Don't make promises you can't keep -- that's a sure way to lose a client. Be realistic about what results your client can expect to achieve. If you let them know the best-case scenario, be sure to follow it up with the worst-case scenario, so they know the scope of outcomes.

4. Follow-Up

One of the easiest ways to maintain good customer service (and uphold your ethical obligations) is to respond to your clients in a timely manner. Your services are not cheap; don't let your clients get angry at you because you don't get back to them quick enough. Even if you need time to find an answer to their question, simply get back to them and let them know you received their message, you're working on it, and you'll get back to them soon.

5. Ask for Feedback

Don't be afraid to ask your clients for feedback. The fact that you are open to constructive criticism, and want to improve your service, will win you points on the spot.

Providing good legal advice is only part of your job -- don't forget to provide your clients with the best customer service you can. Little details like being attentive, polite and timely will go a long way in building lasting client relationships.

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