On the “Twelfth day of Christmas” blog, we shared how to clear up some “messes” so you can start 2010 with a clean slate and with energy and focus.  Today on the “Eleventh day of Christmas”, we will share a quick and easy recipe for creating a great client experience

In today’s world of online information, email communication and virtual relationships, anyone in the professional services world must capitalize on opportunities to create a client “experience” that will help build a relationship that is valued and unique in your client’s mind.  Quality advice and service is a must, but it’s often the small, thoughtful things we do that resonate with our client and makes us distinct from our competition.  Here is an easy, fun way to use the ingredients of the holiday season to put some warmth in your client relationship.

Create a Holiday Season Experience

Ingredients:

1 Jug Apple Cider

1 Cider Seasoning Packet

Sugar Cookies

Napkins

Paper Cups or Coffee Mugs

A pinch of holiday cheer

Simply mix the cider and seasoning, warm it up and place in a thermos in your reception area.  Place sugar cookies on a plate with napkins and mugs nearby.  Print and hang a sign inviting clients to join you for some holiday cheer.  Add a footer to all your emails inviting clients and referral sources to stop by and join in.  If you send out newsletters or e-zines, add a short invitation.  Not only will it fill your office with an inviting aroma of spiced cider, it will give clients an opportunity to stop in and interact with your team in a non-legal, more relationship way. 

Now, I know some of you are thinking, an attorney can’t just eat cookies all day with drop-in clients!  Of course not!  This can be a “team” experience.  Encouraging your clients and team to interact can be a powerful way to leverage the attorneys time by utilizing their friendly staff, and in the process, NOT having to be personally available for every client interaction.  Most employees are already giddy with holiday cheer this time of year, put it to good use!  Let them share it with your clients!  This is an easy, in-expensive way to create a client experience.  You may not get tons of clients coming through the first year, but it can be an easy tradition to start and let build.

Helpful Hints:

1. If you are in a small office, or work solo, add “between the hours of ___ and ____” to your announcement.  Make sure you are there during that time and the doors are open.  This will limit the expectation that you are there and available all day, every day.

2. Don’t assume the attorney has to come and personally greet each client.  If the attorney happens to be out and about in the office, that’s great, but don’t interrupt them each time a client stops by.  The team can be your best “cheermeisters”.

3. Use small cups, it makes the cider last longer.

4. Acknowledge client comments, but don’t overreact.  The first year we did this idea, we had one stern and serious business owner comment to our attorney that “he just needed to come get his legal documents signed, not be served cookies – that it was silly”.  (Note, this didn’t stop him from having a cup of cider and a few cookies!)  Certainly there will be a handful of clients who will care less about some of the ideas you implement.  However, be sure to compare them to the numerous clients who like the idea.  Quantify, before you knee-jerk react and pull the plug on something new.  Usually, as was the case with this particular client, clients are still going to work with you even if they think an idea is silly.  They aren’t going to be so offended you served them cookies they fire you…they are just expressing their opinion.  If you are concerned about how a new idea is being received, have your team give you feedback – often they hear the compliments from the clients and you, as attorney, only hear the complaints!

5. Set boundaries and delegate it!  This is an easy idea to set a few boundaries and delegate to someone on your team.  The attorney doesn’t need to be “hands on” with this.  Decide how much money the team can spend ($20 should be plenty!) and how much time they can spend on this idea (1 hour to buy supplies and set up is more than enough).  With some clear boundaries to make sure you are on the same page, your team can definitely handle this one.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Tenth day of Christmas blog.  Happy Holidays!
Molly and Laney