Want your clients to be more open and honest with you? Make them feel at home. Sounds simple enough. A warm smile, an inviting office, and you should be all set! But what if their first interaction with your firm is over the phone? How do you communicate that you’re there to help … when you’re not physically present to help? How do you gain a client’s trust?
Say Their Names
As Dale Carnegie notes in his famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, “[a] person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Repeating clients’ names will help them relax. And remember, formal doesn’t always equal professional. Sometimes skipping “Mr.” and “Ms.” and using their first names will help them feel more like they’re talking to an old friend than to a potentially intimidating attorney. When in doubt, address clients the same way they introduce themselves.
Respect Their Boundaries
Some clients may be hesitant to provide all their personal details up front. If a client declines to give a piece of information, move on to the next question without pressing. You can come back to it later, and they’ll probably feel more comfortable in the meantime. If you do need the information right away, explain why. When clients know that you’ll be using it to help them move their case along, they’ll be more likely to give it freely.
Match Their Tone and Pace
Some clients will have a more relaxed tone and pace, while others will talk swiftly, seemingly without so much as a breath. While these can be regional differences (West Coasters tend to speak with a more easygoing style than New Yorkers, for example), sometimes clients’ tone and pacing reflects their emotional state. If your client is in a hurry, he or she might speak in short, concise sentences and would appreciate a quick reply. However, if clients sound timid, taking a little more time with them will show that you’re focused on them and there to help.
Ultimately, winning over skeptical clients may come down to how you make them feel. As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Katie Wilson is the Online Marketing Champion at Ruby Receptionists, where she has been since 2009. The company provides personalized live, virtual receptionist service for more than 2,700 attorneys and small businesses throughout North America. Katie is a graduate of Smith College.