One of the things we train law offices to do is how the staff needs to act when they have their first meeting with a client. The potential client is not only making judgments about you, the attorney, but the office surroundings and the staff.
Here are a few things you can put to work now to get better results from your first meeting. Take note: these may seem obvious sometimes, but many law offices fail to implement these techniques and they lose clients as a result.
The Initial Greeting
The very first thing that is often overlooked is making sure that the client is prepared for their office visit. Send them an e-mail and/or text message letting them know a minimum of the following:
Let the client know what building to look for and what will be nearby so they can easily find it. If a client is frustrated trying to locate the building you’re in, they may give up and go home without as much as a phone call. Up to date written instructions are good. Up to date pictures, and Google Maps links are better.
The Appointment Time
Make sure they know when to be there. Thursday afternoon is not appropriate. Set a specific time.
They should know if they have to fill out forms in advance. This is typically a bad idea as it could send the wrong message. If it’s a bad fit, it will be a waste of their time resulting in unwanted reviews.
They’re Here. Now What?
Greet them by their name
You already know who they are and when to expect them. When they show up, you and your receptionist should be able to welcome them as if you know them, and you’re happy to see them.
Increase Your Influence
Your receptionist should express that you are looking forward to seeing them and you’re going to do a great job for them today (Social Proof and Authority). Offer reading material, snacks, and drinks (Reciprocity).
Using Empathetic Listening
This is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. It has the ability to relieve suffering from your client, thus making their situation less stressed, and creating a stronger bond between the two of you. It will make you a better lawyer, increase your conversion rate, and ultimately grow your business.
A great book to read that heavily covers this subject is, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on it by Chris Voss. Chris is a former FBI hostage negotiator, and his book will teach you how to talk to people, to get the desired outcome.
The critical, and often overlooked, step to making this work is to not analyze what they’re saying in how it will effect their case. Your client may be ranting about the problems they’re having and how they expect them to be solved. Instead of immediately jumping to the obvious legal conclusion that they may not want to hear at that moment, ask them more about the specifics of what they’re upset about to gain empathy for their situation and to appreciate the conclusions they’re coming to.
After they’ve managed to get everything off of their chest and are actually looking for your advice, then you can provide it to them. It is important to remember that, in their minds, everything they are upset about should be taken into account when developing their legal strategy.
If you can show to your client that you understand where they’re coming from, and that you want to help them, they are going to want to hire you.