ONTARIO LAWYERS SHARE THEIR BEST CLIENT SERVICE TIPS
When approaching a prospective client or dealing with an existing client on a difficult issue, imagine yourself in that person’s shoes and focus not on what you want to say but rather on what that client wants to hear.
- - Kelli Wight, director of business development, Cassels Brock
Never underestimate the importance of a face to face meeting or a phone call. While modern technologies such as voicemail, email and faxes may make communications more streamlined and efficient, the connection that comes when you speak directly to a client has no equal.
- - Suzana Popovic-Montag, Hull & Hull
Return all communications from clients within 24 hours – I still need to work on this.
- - Guillermo Schible, Hodder Barristers
Being fully upfront about the realities of litigation is the key to serving a client. Before the client embarks on a lawsuit, explain the costs, the delays and the stress of litigation. Explain how our “loser pays” cost system hits people when they are down. Explain the difference between the search for the “truth” and a “just result.” Make sure the client knows the challenges ahead. You’ll know you have served the client well when they tell you at the end: “that wasn’t nearly as bad as you said it would be.”
- - David Sterns, Sotos LLP
If your plan isn't in writing, it isn't a plan; it's an idea. Ideas are a dime a dozen.
- - Grant Buchan-Terrell, Business Lawyer
At the outset of the relationship, I like to ask clients how they prefer to receive correspondence (email, fax, mail) and where (home or office). You would be surprised at the number of clients who prefer a letter sent to their home marked confidential rather than an email.
- - Julia Lefebvre, Lenczner Slaght
You can run but you can’t hide; and when you’re found you just end up being more tired from the run. Don’t run from your clients; avoiding them just causes greater problems in the long term.
- - Elizabeth Mourao, Ricketts Harris LLP
Approach client service like a 5 star hotel approaches customer service. People who feel like they are the centre of the universe are rarely dissatisfied and rarely complain.
- - Simon Borys, Queen’s University
Mind your manners; say thank you for the referral when it comes in and when the file closes. The personal touch is irreplaceable.
- - Jamie Trimble, Hughes Amys LLP
Communicate. Ensure that you let the client know what is happening on the file and determine if they want to know every month, every time something happens, quarterly, etc.
- - Jacqueline Armstrong-Gates, Gowlings
Do not take on work outside of your core area(s) of practice. Doing so puts a lawyer at undue risk of a negligence claim and often amounts to stressful and regrettable files.
- - Patrick James, Pinto Wray James LLP
Give fearless advice and speak truth to power!
- - Mark Berlin, McGill University