Are you looking for ways to grow your business and stand out from the crowd? Read this article by Ruby’s CMO, Molly Moore, on Shep Hyken’s Customer Service blog to learn about the immediate opportunities simply answering your phone and having online chat on your website can bring. These actions alone can help differentiate your brand in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Human communication is layered with non-verbal messages and read-between-the-lines language that require a high level of emotional intelligence to navigate. In the legal field, picking up on these signals can help an attorney establish and build trust with potential and current clients alike. For attorneys who excel in their practice but perhaps struggle with interpersonal communication, we’ve put together a few quick tips to help you meet the needs of your clients.
“Active listening” and “good communication” are buzzwords we’ve all used during an interview or around the office, regardless of our industry. From law firms to contractors to hair stylists, professionals recognize the role of effective communication—which might explain why most adults fancy themselves expert listeners.
While active listening is typically associated with head nods, the occasional “mhmm”, and an accurate regurgitation of a speaker’s main points, the Harvard Business Review contends that these actions just barely scratch the surface. Skilled listeners will first create an environment in which a person feels comfortable speaking. For attorneys, this means eliminating distractions. Desk and cell phones, a smartwatch, or any other electronics that threaten to divert attention away from a client should be tucked away. From here, your own body language, the questions, and insights you offer, and your ability to pick up on nonverbal cues (and acknowledge them) not only deepens your understanding of a client’s unique circumstance, but also establishes a foundation of trust.
Break it Down
A benefit of honing your listening skills is gaining a clear understanding of a client’s motivation around specific litigation. Becoming familiar with their goals empowers you to provide information in the context of their aspirations. Give clients insight as to why information matters to them and reinforce a positive perception of your firm. Frame information in a way that connects with your clients to let them know you’re listening, and again, you’ll earn their trust.
In addition to context, remember to steer away from legal jargon. Avoid inaccessible language that can further confuse—and potentially frustrate—your clients. Be sure to break down terminology in a way that aligns with each individual client’s needs. And remember to always loop back to why the information you are giving them is relevant!
What might be the biggest challenge of running your own practice? Following up with client communication in a timely manner in the midst of meetings, casework, and court dates. While the clients who have you face-to-face appreciate your undivided attention, your focus there will inevitably result in unanswered client (or potential client) phone calls. Virtual receptionists are a great solution to a ringing phone. Clients are able to connect with a real, live human ready and trained to help them, while you remain focused on the task at hand. Even if a receptionist is answering your calls, be sure to set aside time to follow up with clients. Keep them updated and check in to reassure them that their needs haven’t been forgotten to maintain valuable positive client relationships.
Bottom line: Eliminate distractions in your environment, seek to understand client goals, and avoid legal jargon to meet clients where they are. Better communication means an elevated client experience, which translates into wider profit margins for your firm.
TimeSolv is a comprehensive project management and legal billing software that has been helping lawyers and other professionals increase billable time and get paid faster since 1999. TimeSolv is compatible with PCs and Macs, iPad and other tablets, iPhones and Android App. If you’re interested in automating your law practice with TimeSolv, click here now to start your no-obligation 30-day free trial!
Have you ever worried that your phone experience might be letting your clients down?
Or that you’re losing cases due to missed calls? Have you wondered if you could get more done without adding headcount?
That’s where Ruby comes in. We understand the importance of establishing trust and building relationships with your clients, and we are here to help you do just that, one happy caller and live chat at a time! You get the freedom to focus on casework, court dates, and client meetings while we win you more clients.
To get the full scoop, check out our most recent “How to Grow Your Practice” webinar recording and discover:
- How the phone call improves your bottom line
- How to streamline your day with a team of receptionists
- What’s included in Ruby’s service
A virtual legal assistant sounds great on paper𑁋they lower costs, increase your billable hours, widen your profit margins, help you strike a work/life balance, and improve your client relationships. Ideal for the small firm or solo attorney, virtual talent is great in theory, but how do you actually make it work?
A reasonable query, one that I answer in quick four tips. Here are a few protips for incorporating virtual talent into your practice:
1. Identify and plan for your needs.
Running your practice is like working any case, it requires a goal and an understanding of all moving parts. With these in mind, you’re able to build a strategy and an action plan to reach your next milestone.
But let’s talk about your needs for a second. Are you honest with yourself about them? What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? What tasks do you hate doing? Outsourcing is an excellent way to help you focus on what’s profitable while shifting what you either don’t enjoy or don’t have time for to someone else’s plate. Find a virtual attorney whose strengths are your weaknesses, virtual legal assistants who thrive on those tedious tasks you dislike, and virtual receptionists and legal tech for areas where you are losing money on office management.
In delegating tasks to virtual talent, you regain billable hours for your firm. Attorney and paralegal time can be billed to the client at a reasonable profit margin and you don’t need to cover their overhead as you would a body in your office.
2. Establish clear and proactive communication.
Communication is the key to virtual success. It enables delegation, builds trust, powers efficiency, improves integration, and creates a productive environment. All of which combine to reduce stress and increase efficacy and responsiveness. Clear and proactive communication also reduces the likelihood of errors, conflicts in communication styles, and the oft-raised concern about assistants ‘disappearing’ along with your tasks (aka ghosting).
Good communication involves being direct about expectations, awareness of skills, and realistic time frames; it requires solid procedures and transparent processes. Regularly scheduled calls and virtual meetings, the use of cloud-based technology and/or practice management software all give rise to clear communication.
3. Delegate effectively.
Doing everything yourself results in a self-perpetuating cycle of being overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed. As your to-do list grows, you become more inefficient and less profitable. Delegate tasks where you can to remain productive and in control of your quality of life.
Mindful planning coupled with effective communication is key to feeling confident that all delegated tasks will be completed. You have a plan, you know your weaknesses; you know you can bill paralegal time, and that by freeing up hours in your day you can focus on the work that generates revenue.
4. Use virtual talent to capitalize on specialties.
You’re a small or solo practice, and sure, while the law is the law there are some nuances to each practice area. You can’t possibly know everything about every specialty, so you inevitably reduce your practice area to focus your work.
So, as an estate planner, what do you do when you discover your client has a patent that is being infringed? How do you handle an immigration case involves human trafficking? You want to give your client the best service possible, so you study and familiarize yourself with the associated nuances. But what’s even better? Hiring a freelance specialist to join your team. A virtual attorney and/or virtual legal assistant who supplements and compliments your own expertise is incredibly helpful. Their knowledge is a significant benefit to your practice, as well as your individual clients.
Master these four tips to integrate virtual talent into your practice, and magic will happen!
Where do you go to learn more about virtual receptionists?
Don’t miss your chance to build trust with new customers. Make sure your first interaction is a prompt, positive introduction to your small business.
First impressions are one of your most powerful resources—or one of your biggest pitfalls. Those initial experiences a customer has with your small business are literally laying the groundwork for a foundation of trust. And that foundation of trust? It’s vital to ensuring a long-lasting customer relationship.
What happens in those first moments, for better or worse—from a phone call that goes to voicemail to a not-so-tidy lobby—gives your newest customers insight into their future experience with your business.
During those first moments, there are three questions your customers are asking themselves:
- Does this business care about its customers?
- Will I enjoy working with these people?
- Are they going to respond to my needs?
It’s critical that you answer these questions in those initial interactions because if you don’t, the customer is going to answer for themselves. You want a resounding, “Yes, absolutely!” for every one of these questions! That means thinking long and hard about where those first impressions occur, and examining these touchpoints closely. Is there room for improvement? Are you leaving any opportunities to surprise and delight on the table?
Most importantly, do customers experience confusion or discomfort at any point in the process? If so, immediately focus on those areas until that is no longer the case. After all, 78% of consumers have literally bailed on a transaction solely because of their initial experience!
And remember, we want our first impressions to form a foundation of trust and answer those three important questions. Confusion and discomfort are antithetical to trust (and certainly won’t make customers feel cared for), so don’t let those feelings creep in to those first interactions. Think of yourself as the guardian of trust in those first moments. Defend it with all of your might!
OK, so we know those first impressions are really important. That’s all well and good, but let’s get down to brass tacks here: What can you do now to ensure that your customers are experiencing a delightful first impression of your business?
Answer the Phone
Don’t let your phone go to voicemail during business hours—that causes confusion and frustration for customers trying to reach you. And avoid obnoxious phone trees at all costs. Keep in mind that 67% of customers have actually hung up the phone out of frustration with an automated system, likely moving on to a competitor who did answer their call.
When responding to emails or messages, always do so as quickly as possible. If you’re not typically able to respond to emails or messages throughout the day, be sure to include an auto-reply or other communication so that customers know exactly what to expect (and, again, help avoid any confusion). A friendly “I’m busy at the shop until 3 p.m., but I’ll happily respond to your email as soon as I’ve closed up for the day!” goes a long way to reassure customers.
Use Positive Language
Can something as simple as word choice have a dramatic impact on a customer’s first impression of a business? It seems silly, but it’s true! The words you choose can significantly affect a customer’s experience. If you want a customer to walk away smiling after their initial interaction, replace negative phrases such as, “I can’t do that,” or “I don’t know,” with something a little more positive such as, “While I’m not able to do that, I would be happy to…” or “Great question! I’d be delighted to find out for you,” and see what happens. You just might be surprised at the results!
Wait, what? Yeah, I said it: Don’t rely on robots to take care of your customers. Chatbots, interactive voice response (IVR), and other forms of artificial intelligence software are fine, but they’re not delightful.
Humans crave connection and interaction—even if they swear they’d rather send a text—so be sure to satisfy that craving wherever you can. Bots are limited in their capacity to assist, and even as far as they’ve come, it’s always painfully obvious when you’re interacting with one. Don’t cut corners where it matters most: Ensure that your customers are getting an opportunity to interact with a warm, friendly human, and you will be well ahead of the game.
Masterfully crafting these initial interactions will set you up for long-term success with your customers. If you want customers to trust you—and ultimately to feel loyalty for your business—don’t let those first impressions slip by!
The market is primed and ready for your new products and services. The possibilities are endless. The team is excited and ready to go. There’s no better time than the present to take the steps to scaling your small business.
What’s the secret to your success?
It’s pretty simple: people. Your customers, and the way you acquire and retain them, are the secret sauce for a successful business. Learn how to care for your prospective and current customers alike, and you’ll overcome the biggest barrier to scaling: finding the fans to support your growth.
Put People First: Focus on Current Customers
If you’re like most small business owners, you’re looking for a larger target audience. The wider the net, the more fish you’ll catch, right?
Truth be told, acquiring new customers is hard work. Studies have shown that the cost of acquisition is anywhere from three to seven times greater than the cost of retaining an existing customer. That’s why the first step is to take care of your current customers.
1. Build a relationship with your customers
When it comes to your current customer base, it’s wise to deepen the net. A tall customer base is made up of your faithful followers and friends; the people who know you, know your company, and know that you’re the go-to resource for purchases in your niche. These are the customers that come back to your business time and again. If you’re a car dealer, they are the ones that return to you for every vehicle purchase, while also recommending you to their family and friends.
Get to know them. Learn about customer likes and dislikes. Consider a brief survey, or take time to reach out and discover why they’re so loyal. As you grow, you’ll better understand their needs and how you can meet—and exceed—them.
2. Solve your customers’ problems
When customers are delighted, they’re likely to come back to your business again and again. Learn about their problems and challenges, ask them for honest feedback, and inquire about other problems they may be facing unrelated to your business.
Then, look for a solution. Whether it’s your product that solves their problem or you point your customers towards an existing solution, the support and care you’re showing your customers improves their lives. And customers will remember that. It builds loyalty in a way that feels authentic.
3. Add value to your customers’ lives
It’s not always about driving your customers to their next purchase. Don’t overlook the importance of utilizing digital resources.
I’m not talking about making a few posts on social media to sustain your growth. I’m talking about a coordinated content marketing plan that provides blog posts, emails, white papers, instructional videos and more, all with your customers’ lives in mind. Every resource, every communication, should be focused on your customers and their specific needs.
Some examples include:
- Show how to tackle a challenge with a step-by-step instructional video
- Create an email series that addresses issues your customers might be facing in their businesses
- Present your customers with information on industry trends that they may find valuable
Content ideas are around every corner. Start with your conversations with your customers and address the topics they’re talking about, their concerns. This establishes your business as a valuable source of truth in their lives, keeping you top of mind when it’s time for their next purchase.
Widening the Net: Focus on Future Customers
Of course, holding on to customers is only half the battle. Focus #2 is attracting new customers. That’s when all of your research and work comes into play.
- What have you learned about your current customers? Use that information to build a buyer persona. Who is your average customer? What does this person like? Where do you find this person? Apply the lessons you’ve learned from current customers to the customers you’re hoping to acquire.
- You’ve already learned how to build and maintain a relationship with your current customers. Now, apply those same principles to your prospective customers. Open up several lines of communication and be responsive on each of your different platforms.
- Give them great (and consistent) content that adds value to their lives. Unlike current customers who already have you at the forefront of their minds, prospective customers are just learning about your business. Give them content that informs and engages, and is highly shareable. As they start to see your name more and more often, you have a much greater chance of moving them along your funnel, converting them to faithful, paying customers and growing your business.
People are your business’ greatest asset. A fact which becomes crystal clear when remembering that the vast majority of Americans seek a personal recommendation when on the market for a new product or service.
Looking to grow your business? Make sure that your customers would recommend your company when the opportunity arises. Find new and innovative ways to connect with your current customers and add value to their lives. Apply the same concepts to your potential new customers, and you’ll create raving fans for life.
Gabe Arnold is the founder of Copywriter Today where you can get unlimited fresh content for all your marketing needs. If you want 250 free headline ideas for your next marketing campaign, use their free tool here.
Anger happens. It’s a natural response to frustration that researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara describe as a “bargaining emotion.” Internal anger is a defensive response to perceived unfairness. And the anger we express externally is our (admittedly not always productive) way of communicating our desire to resolve the situation.
When you represent your company, a game plan for addressing customer anger is key to successful customer service. It’s important to provide your customers with the opportunity to air and resolve their grievances, which helps you maintain your online reputation and provides valuable feedback for your business. Best of all, when your customer service teams are trained to handle angry customers, you have the opportunity to turn them back into happy customers.
With a few strategies, you can equip yourself to turn negative customer interactions into positive customer experiences.
1. Don’t take it personally
Stellar customer service is all about creating personal connections. But in difficult moments, it may be more effective to take the personal out of the equation—allowing you to better address their frustrations. Remind yourself that they’re frustrated with a product or a service, not with you personally. A little breathing room will better equip you to address your customer’s concerns head on.
Even if you’ve heard it all before, remember that your customer hasn’t had the chance to say it all just yet. To be sure you fully understand their concerns, give the customer room to express their point of view. Allow your customer to finish their thought before interjecting with a helpful solution. Often all they need is to feel heard, and more importantly, to feel like you care enough to take proactive action that will help them.
Once your customer has had the chance to speak, repeat and rephrase your customer’s concerns to show that you heard them. If you’re unclear about your customer’s concerns, ask follow up questions to be sure that you’re fully comprehending their point of view. Demonstrating that you are attentively listening establishes that you and the customer are on the same page working towards a solution. A little bit of empathy goes a long way.
Apologize for their frustration and mean it. As the representative of your business, it’s important to acknowledge faults and express your regrets.
Additionally, let them know that their complaints will be taken into account moving forward, that your company will learn from them. An authentic willingness to learn from mistakes and take complaints seriously can turn a customer relationship around.
5. Stay Postive
It can be difficult to maintain a upbeat attitude in a difficult situation, but a little positivity can go a long way. Your confidence in yourself will instill your customer with confidence in you and your problem-solving skills. And your positivity, when genuine, will put your customer at ease.
How have you turned a negative customer interaction into a positive brand interaction? Tweet us @callruby and share your story!
Your message matters—and so does the voice you say it with! There are more opportunities than ever for businesses to create meaningful connections with customers and people are being exposed to more advertising messaging than ever before. So, how can you stand out from the crowd to showcase your amazing product and top-notch service?
Your brand voice is more than a tagline and a logo. It’s an extension of your customer experience that inspires customer loyalty and word-of-mouth. No matter the size of your business, who you are and how you communicate with your audience is important.
Consider these three reasons why your brand voice can’t be ignored.
1. First Impressions
Whether it’s your family roots, your industry expertise, or your super friendly service, your brand voice speaks to what makes your business unique. Scattered or generic brand messaging can get lost in the crowd, so set yourself apart by creating a memorable first impression.
Use your brand voice to communicate a message that inspires enthusiasm, like your values or your company culture. The things you are most proud of about your business will draw a customer base that’s as passionate about your product as you are.
2. Lasting Connections
With so many marketing channels and unique best practices, it can be all too easy for a brand voice to become brand voices. Maintaining brand voice consistency across marketing channels allows your business to stay top of mind at all times. Your new marketing efforts will naturally recall your previous messages, creating a seamless blend of positive associations for your potential customers.
Your brand voice should convert your customers into brand loyalists by evoking that same memorable experience time and time again. From your website to your packaging, there are a myriad of opportunities to remind your customers what drew them to your business in the first place.
3. Ripple Effect
Your voice can turn brand loyalists into brand evangelists. By providing your customers with a brand voice to stand with, the same messages that you share with your customers will be repeated in turn to their friends, family, and coworkers. According to a study conducted by Nielsen, 84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from people they know. Word of mouth marketing remains a valuable marketing channel in the digital realm, and it starts with a shareable brand voice.
Your brand voice echoes beyond marketing messaging in digital, print, radio and other marketing channels. Be sure you’re creating a lasting impression that will resonate in your customer’s minds.
So ask yourself the question, does your brand voice resonate?