The absolute easiest and underrated way to grow your practice: client service!
Have you ever been the recipient of bad customer service? Maybe your take out order for dinner was missing the toy with the child's favorite meal - bonus points if you realized this only after you got home to a very hungry family.
Or maybe after trying on various sizes of shoes you opted for the 6's but the clerk somehow sold you a box with a pair of shoes comprising one in a size 5 and one in a size 6.
(This may or may not have happened to me…).
Everyone makes mistakes. After all, to err is human. But if multiple mistakes happen over a short period of time, you may be inclined to take your business elsewhere.
Your IP clients are not any different. They want, and expect (and deserve), good client service.
Here we explore different ways you can improve the experience for your clients to keep them happy and loyal.
Develop a relationship with the client that extends beyond “just business”.
Many IP associates struggle with how to interact with clients. They question if they should be strictly business, especially if they are "on the clock". The answer to this is: absolutely not!!. Building a relationship that extends beyond business matters is a key component in retaining clients.
Okay, I'm not saying take anything personally! But move a little outside the business sphere and establish a social connection. What hobbies do they have? Kids? Upcoming special events?
Make it personable but not personal.
Be mindful of keeping appropriate boundaries.
Steer clear of controversial topics.
Be authentic and genuinely curious to learn more about them.
Make sure this is a two-way street and share a bit more about yourself too.
People like working with people they like and enjoy being around. Familiarity breeds trust and trust, in turn, builds loyalty.
𝗗𝗲𝗺𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 (extended) 𝘃𝗮𝗹𝘂𝗲
You've heard the advice to set expectations low and then over deliver? This is thought to create a “wow” factor with your client. But in the world of IP services, you might want to be careful of setting the expectations too low. After all, your clients are looking for an expert to solve a problem for them.
The second half of the saying is spot on though - over deliver. Or at a minimum, meet expectations. In other words, demonstrate your value.
When providing an outcome to a client, consider the entire deliverable. Obviously you will have solved the problem or addressed the issue they came to you with.
But consider that as a skilled IP professional, you are charging a premium to your clients for providing value. Let's take it one step further: what would happen if you deliver even more value to your client, is it a win-win situation?
By providing extended value and over delivering, you will impress your clients. That extra bit of value will not only impress your client, it gives them an additional benefit (a win for them) and reinforces their decision to keep working with you (a win for you).
There are many different ways you can provide extra value. Some examples are to consider:
Have you anticipated and mitigated possible alternative scenarios?
Is there anything the client has not specifically requested but will be important to them?
Is there any other service you can offer?
Use collaborative language to highlight you are a team player
Team members work together to achieve a common goal. They stick together and act in the team's best interest. The sports announcer gets to critique the team.
Your client wants to feel like you are on their team, not the sports announcer. So try to use collaborative language to highlight that you consider yourself to be part of the team.
Instead of "𝑌𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑏𝑙𝑒𝑚 𝑖𝑠" try "𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑏𝑙𝑒𝑚 𝑤𝑒 𝑓𝑎𝑐𝑒 𝑖𝑠"
Instead of "𝑇ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑜𝑛'𝑡 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑘" try "𝐴𝑛 𝑜𝑏𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑐𝑙𝑒 𝑤𝑒 𝑚𝑎𝑦 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑎𝑐𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑠 𝑖𝑠"
Instead of "𝑏𝑢𝑡" try "𝑎𝑛𝑑" as in "𝑊𝑒 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑒𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑎 𝑟𝑒𝑗𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐸𝑥𝑎𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑛𝑑 ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑛𝑒𝑥𝑡 𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑝𝑠".
You’ll notice the use of the word “we” in the example suggested language. In addition to creating the sense of unification, it may also improve collaboration. Statements using the word “you” can be perceived as being less cooperative and more accusatory.
Make each client feel special
Who doesn't like to feel special? The greeting card industry revolves around reminding recipients that someone thought of them for some reason.
Your clients are people - go to a bit of effort to make them feel special.
Invite them to an event they will enjoy (and you know they will enjoy it because you've gotten personable, right?). Your firm may have event tickets to offer or you may need to request a marketing or discretionary budget for this.
Another easy way to make someone feel special? Make a point of remembering their birthday, if appropriate, or some other special milestone. (This is a good time to recall the greeting card industry…).
STATOY is always a handy tip too: Send them something with a note that says "Saw This and Thought Of You".It could be a timely and informative article (doesn’t have to be necessarily written by you) or something else that could be relevant to them.
Happy clients are loyal clients. By being personable, demonstrating your (extended) value, being a team player and making them feel special, clients are bound to be happier, resulting in more billable work for you. It's a win-win situation. These are obvious ways to keep a client happy, and really it is the simple things that work.
We know that trying to find time to do business development can be tough. We are here to help you create a personalized business development plan that is tailored to your specific needs. Whether you are a trainee, an associate or a partner, we have a program for everyone.
Interested in learning more?
Email us at email@example.com
Thank you for taking the time to read this month's "Beyond the Application".