How Client Intake and Customer Care Will Change Your Business
You can change your business for the better simply by improving two basic parts of your business: client intake and customer care. Getting your relationship started on the right foot with your customers is one of the best things that you can do to proactively avoid future problems. This is why client intake is so important. Customer care helps build loyalty with your clients. Here’s how changing your client intake and customer care will help your business.
Client intake is the process of starting a file for your client. This includes more than taking a retainer or deposit and putting together a file. Those items are important, but it’s also about how the entire experience makes your client feel. If they feel lost or ignored, you can be assured that the idea of a long term, profitable relationship most likely will not materialize. Our number one tip for client intake is to make it easy for your client. They should have everything they need from you in one convenient packet. Your intake sheet should be easy to understand. Your billing guidelines should be included. A credit application should be made available (if you offer credit). You should create a list of questions that new clients may have about your business or your services. These questions might relate to billing, office procedures (such as how long they may wait to receive a follow-up or return phone call), how they can make their payments, and names and numbers of people they can contact if they have questions. Additionally, your clients should receive a copy of everything that they fill out (regardless of whether you provide hard copies or they fill out their information online).
Measuring Your Client Intake Process
If you really want to impress your clients, make sure that your client intake process is streamlined to be quick and easy. Here are four questions that you should ask about your intake process:
- Is your client intake process easy? Don’t ask clients to give you information that you don’t need. Make sure that your intake forms are short and easy to understand. You could even offer an online process that includes digital signatures. Tools like Docusign make online intake easy and convenient.
- Is your client intake process efficient? You don’t want anyone to waste your time. So, you don’t want to waste the time of your clients, either. Your intake process affects you just as much as it does your clients. Make sure that your system is easy to use and repeatable. For instance, every new client may get a welcome or evaluation phone call, intake forms in the mail or via email, they bring the forms in for a personal consultation, and everything is signed with copies given to the new client.
- Is your client intake process organized? You should have a well-organized, documented intake process. This stops problems on your end. There shouldn’t be any digging through notes or looking for forms that weren’t put into their proper place. Doing these things is just as inconvenient for your client as it is for you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can rely on simply remembering. Create a process, document it, and put things where they go. You can even put together intake packets before they are needed for easier access.
- Is your client intake process personalized? Nothing is more frustrating for potential clients than feeling stuck. This is why it is important that you personalize your process by providing answers. This might mean that you sit with your client in person while they finish their forms. It might mean that when you email the forms that you include contact information (name and number) for someone who can answer questions and walk them through the process.
Remember, a good client intake process focuses on the client; and that makes for a happier client!
One of the best ways to nurture a client relationship into one that lasts a lifetime is to provide excellent customer care. Now, depending on the type of work that you do, your procedures may be different. However, it all boils down to one basic concept: your client needs to feel heard and they need to be happy.
Are clients happy all of the time? No. There are things that can happen that can upset them. Maybe it’s a billing question. Maybe it’s an error. Maybe they didn’t receive a call back from your office in what they felt was an appropriate timeframe. However, all of these situations can be turned around.
Managing Your Customer Care
It’s important to provide support to your customers. Happy customers give you referrals. They bring you repeat business. Unhappy customers take their money elsewhere. They also tell everyone how unhappy they are with you. That can lead to big problems. Excellent customer care has the potential to solve problems before they happen. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- If your staff handles the phones, he or she should have the authority to help solve problems. They should also have also have answers to questions. While more complex or ongoing issues may take a bit of research, there should be a document that helps answer questions.
- Most clients want one extra thing besides an answer to their concern. They want to feel heard. Active listening skills and empathy can go a long way in defusing a tense conversation with the client. Don’t multitask. Don’t plan a response. Truly listen to what is being said or you may find that you miss something important in the conversation. To learn more about active listening, check out this great article on Forbes.
- Have guidelines on office procedures such as the time it takes to return a call. One good rule is to return all calls within 24 business hours even if it means you call to say that you’re still researching the matter. This makes the client feel important.
Your Clients Are Your Concern
You can’t stay in business if you don’t have clients. This is why it’s important that your intake process and your customer care routine focus on their needs. Attorney's A.R.M. provides a free process review. Learn how you can streamline and improve your client intake without any obligation. Book your appointment by filling out our simple form.