Supplier-Connection: The Supplier Spotlight Contest
For our law firm (which is a transactional business firm and not a litigation firm), we find we can “create efficiencies and cut costs” for our clients by employing these 5 simple points:
1) Meet Your Client Face to Face. Email is great, but we like to meet prospective clients face to face. This may seem like a given to most folks, but with our high-tech society, the personal touch is often left out. Before embarking on a formal, professional relationship both the prospective client and company should evaluate each other to see if there’s a natural fit, both in practice areas/experience as well as personality. For ongoing clients, whenever a new business person or in house attorney is the assigner of a project, we take the time to meet them for lunch when it is convenient for them. The client knows you care about them on a human level and this paves the way for easier communications.
2) Find Out Client’s Business Goals. Sometimes clients come with a pre-conceived notion of what it is they think they need or want. In response, lawyers sometimes take off right out of the gate drafting documents (and incurring fees) without understanding the client’s goals, thus having to shift later into another structure or form of transaction which can result in extra cost to the client. If you understand the client’s goals up front, you can suggest more efficient, simpler ways of achieving those goals.
3) Keep the Client Up to Date. Strike a balance! Don’t inundate the client by cc:’ing everyone on every email. But find out from your client how they’d like you to handle status updates and being respectful of it. You never want your main contact to be taken by surprise when management asks for an update. This promotes efficiency within the client’s organization by simply not overloading the client with needless correspondence, yet allows them to report intelligently about a project.
4) Understand Client’s Business. Learn (on your own time) about the client’s business, its successes, challenges, business expansion plans and competitors. When you hear of a seminar, or article that pertains to your client’s industry, forward that information to them. As a result, you’ll be able to suggest a course of action (e.g., suggesting that your client register its trademarks in a foreign country well before it attempts sales there to avoid trademark piracy) that will help pave the way for smoother operations or expansion for them, saving them the time and expense of later having to litigate to fix something that could have been properly planned. Your client knows you’re considering their welfare even when you are not working on a particular project.
5) Create a Network of Referrals. It’s unlikely our staff can fulfill all of our clients’ needs. However, we want our clients to be well served. If we don’t possess a certain expertise, we will do our utmost to find other professionals who have the skill set they may need. For example, we don’t have engineering or scientific backgrounds and so we cannot prosecute patents; therefore, if our client needs that expertise, we’ll provide a list of IP attorneys for them to consult. We create this list by inquiring of other clients or colleagues as to their recommendations and we’re constantly updating that list. Your client will appreciate that you’ve taken time to do this and you’ll feel the confidence of knowing your client is being taken care of.