First Impressions Count
Guest blogger Aaron Rothert, Atticus Practice Advisor, recently wrote the following commentary on the key “touch points” that help to form a client’s first impressions of your firm:
As soon as they step in the door, clients are looking around your office, forming perceptions. It’s your job to manage these perceptions by providing a friendly and welcoming experience. Your office environment should convey one message: we are here to take care of you.
Ask yourself if the look and feel of your office sends that message. If you’re not sure, conduct an internal test by looking at these key areas:
- First, review client reception. Greet clients warmly and offer beverages on arrival. Personally escort clients to meeting areas, or have the client’s main point of contact escort them. During the first meeting, introduce clients to the firm members who will be handling their issue. Provide clients with an office tour and give them a memento with the firm’s name on it.
- Next, take a look at your facility. Does it convey a feeling of credibility, permanence and trustworthiness? Is your reception area comfortable and in good condition? Is there adequate parking? Is the parking easy to access? Are visible offices organized? Does your décor match your client base?
- Review your materials and signage. Provide new clients with maps and written directions. Ensure signage is clear and easily followed. Give new clients a welcome package that familiarizes them with the firm. Incorporate a well-designed logo into material and web design.
- Examine your telephone protocol. Clients should be greeted by an actual human when they call. Voicemail should meet client needs and provide an option to reach an actual person. Never allow a phone call to interrupt a client meeting unless it is an emergency. Voicemail should be frequently monitored. Telephone calls should be returned the same day.
Because so much client interaction takes place over the phone, a phone etiquette policy is a must. Some good habits to include are: answer the phone within the first three rings; include the phrase, “How may I help you?” at the end of your greeting; and use proper hold procedures- asking permission to place a caller on hold, waiting for a response, providing a reason for the hold, thanking the caller for holding when returning to the call and checking back if a hold lasts more than three minutes.
Periodically reviewing these client-centered approaches internally can be very helpful. These factors may have no bearing to the quality of service you provide clients, but approach them as if they did. According to B. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, consumers have an ever-growing awareness and high standards about how they should be treated. Whether or not clients have a positive experience impacts where they take their business in the future. Keep this in mind as you plan office improvement projects for 2016.
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