How to Foster Virtual Client Relationships
There are a unique set of challenges that come with working remotely. One of the most difficult parts of being a freelance attorney involves learning how to manage relationships with clients in a virtual environment, which can be very different from connecting with people face-to-face. Make the most out of your client relationships by following these tips:
The root of many client relationship problems for remote attorneys is usually due to miscommunication or a lack of communication all together. For many clients, working with a remote attorney may be met with some apprehension. Avoid these concerns by providing regular status updates for ongoing projects and following up with past clients. Set calendar reminders for each so that you do not forget to check-in. Consider creating email templates that you can personalize for each client to save you time and make communication easier.
There are a number of tools you can use to stay in touch with clients if you are unable to meet them in person. Video chats, email, direct phone calls, and texting are all ways to keep the lines of communication open. Just be sure to ask your clients what methods of communication they prefer.
Being able to effectively manage client expectations is critical to your success as a freelance attorney and should be taken very seriously. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip because it requires open lines of communication. Failure to properly set client expectations will likely lead to misunderstanding and frustration. The client may not understand what the goal of the work was or what success looks like. Do not oversell. If there is a potential for unfavorable results or high risk, inform the client immediately.
Be sure to communicate your commitments to the project, including timelines, cost and scope, and ensure all parties are in agreement at the beginning of your client relationship. Update your client frequently when matters are being handled as expected, and certainly when issues are expected to arise.
Consistency Matters in Client Relationships
Like you, your clients are also creatures of habit and don't enjoy surprises. Be sure to deliver on the objectives you and the client have set, along with expectations you set in the initial meeting about communication and billing. This helps build a more trusting attorney-client relationship that will allow for more independence. This is especially valuable when working remotely.
Ask clients for their feedback on the services you provided. Emphasize that you appreciate honest feedback and aspire to grow from it. Both praise and constructive criticism are vital for improving the services that you provide to clients. This is especially true for newly remote attorneys making the transition from an office job. Anything that you can learn about better managing client relationships virtually will help you become a successful freelance attorney.
In the legal world, clients are the lifeblood of your business. Without them, you’re out of a job. Despite being indispensable, they can also be a major cause for frustration if not properly managed. This can be especially tricky when you have less face-to-face time than the typical attorney. Luckily, by making sure the lines of communication are as open as possible, you are helping set yourself up for a fruitful attorney-client relationship. Think you have the skills to manage client relationships effectively? Starting your freelance attorney career by finding the right partner can set you up for success. Services like Hire an Esquire can help you market yourself and connect you with the right people to jump start your new professional life.