SHALL I FINISH MY BINGE WATCHING OF GAME OF THRONES OR SHOULD I RETURN MY CLIENT’S EMAIL AT MIDNIGHT?
Has the electronic world made client’s expectations too high? Are your clients expecting immediate gratification and response time? Did you ever receive an email from your client at midnight or on a weekend?
It was not long ago that the United State post office, the telephone and the fax machine were the preferred modes of communications. Response time was delayed and slow moving.
Now with email, texting, and social media, the age of delayed response and, dare I say, patience has ended.
Attorneys often find themselves overwhelmed with the persistence of clients and the expectation that a response needs to be immediate.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO TO ADDRESS A CLIENT’S EXPECTATION FOR A QUICK RESPONSE?
Well we do have a choice. We can either embrace the change in communication and respond immediately or we continue to operate at our own pace, making people wait until we have time.
I am an advocate for embracing the benefit of technology and satisfying the clients’ need for quick responses. With email, is it that difficult to send a quick email that you are in meetings and will reach out to them later in the day? What about having another attorney or staff member reach out to the client and get more information or potentially answering the question?
The main thing is to create active communication so that the client knows you are thinking about them and looking to respond quickly to help them address his or her issue. Trust me when I tell you that there is nothing that pleases a client more than a quick response even if it is to say, I have no information right now but will follow up.
THE DREADED MIDNIGHT EMAIL
If you are playing with your phone at midnight and see an email come in, see the positive response that you will get when you return that email five minutes later. My google search on the fastest animal in the world can wait five minuteswhile I type a quick response. (If you were wondering, the peregrine falcon is the world’s fastest animal).
EMAILS ON THE WEEKEND? SHOULD I RESPOND?
Attorneys often ignore emails on weekends characterizing it as an invasion of family and personal time.
However, I have found that because I am attached to my phone and tablet for other reasons, is it truly a problem responding to a client or a business associate and making them feeling comfortable over the weekend? Sometimes clients and others like to have that feeling that everything is fine or even the feeling that you are available to them and think enough of them to respond to them over the weekend.
My favorite story was when a realtor that I had done a few deals with emailed me at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning and asked me to touch base regarding an issue the realtor’s client was having. My family was still asleep and I was having a cup of coffee enjoying my garden. I thought that if the realtor was calling that early it must have been important and making the call was the right thing to do. After a five-minute conversation with the realtor and the realtor’s client, I relieved the stress from the realtor’s client and was back to my garden. Most importantly, that realtor has referred a large amount of clients following that phone call.
INCONVENIENCE VERSUS THE RESIDUAL BENEFIT OF QUICK CLIENT COMMUNICATION
It seems like the electronic age may be slightly inconvenient to our lives.
However, email is creating an opportunity to set yourself apart as the best attorney in your field.
As attorneys, we are a referral business. A quick response means happy clients which will translate into more clients.
Clearly, you have the choice and even if you do not expedite your communication you will likely keep most of your clients. However, if you do create a structure for responding quickly, you will have happier clients and will see your client base grow significantly.