Your clients are the foundation of your business, and as such, you should be acquiescing to their every request. However, this doesn’t always work out—sometimes through no fault of your own, and sometimes through every fault.
If you’ve failed to live up to your client’s expectations in any way, this can break trust—and your client-attorney relationship can be broken, as well. Before tempers and time lost gets too out of hand, here are the top 3 things to do if you’ve upset your client.
1. Take a Lesson From Grade School: Say You’re Sorry
An upset client needs to hear you say you’re sorry. Apologizing for any inconvenience they’ve experienced can go a long way to retain the trust and business of your client. Make sure you say “I’m sorry,” or “We’re sorry,” if more than one firm member is working equally on the case, other than “We apologize,” or “I regret that happened.” Think about when someone has said, “I’m sorry” to you. It sounds more genuine, doesn’t it?
TIP: Whatever you do, make sure you’re sincere when you say you’re sorry. A half-assed apology is worse than no apology at all, and a client can see right through this. Patronizing an upset client is a surefire way to send that client packing—straight into the office of one of your competitors.
2. Allow Your Client To Vent
Legal matters are personal matters, and if something falls short of a client’s expectations, or misses the mark altogether, they’re going to be rightfully upset; e.g. a phone call wasn’t returned on time, or worse, case files weren’t processed when promised. If your firm dropped the ball, for whatever reason, allow your client to vent—yell, be confrontational, etc.
Let your client express what they need to, listen, and then offer ways to rectify the situation. And if you really don’t know what they want to right the wrong, ask directly: “What do you want me to do?” This can get you both on the same page.
3. Right the Wrong, With Padding
Whatever your client gives you as a solution to right what has upset them, do it, and then offer something extra. After all, if your client is upset because you didn’t fulfill an aspect of your client-attorney relationship that you should have been doing anyway, you actually owe them—whether this is comped billable hours, etc.
Accommodate their requests to quell the disappointment, and add a little something extra to pad the deal.