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Best Practice: How to manage client expectations

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am owner of a four-attorney firm in Amarillo, Texas. We represent both individual and institutional clients. Recently, we have had numerous complaints from clients advising us that our services took longer than expected and fees were also higher than expected. I would appreciate your thoughts.

A. Based upon client satisfaction surveys (telephone interviews) that we do for law firms we find that one of the biggest problems is that the attorneys are doing a poor job of managing client expectations. Your clients get frustrated when you promise one thing (timeline or fees) and the result is very different - especially when the work takes longer than promised or the fees are higher. Even though you don't structure it as a promise, your clients take it that way. The key is to under promise and over deliver. I suspect that upon the initial client meeting you are under estimating the timeline and low balling the fee range. Reduce the promise by increasing the timeline and fee range and then shoot to deliver under that range. This will do wonders for improving the client relationship.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, (www.olmsteadassoc.com) is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA listserver, which John and other committee members review, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. Contact John at jolmstead@olmsteadassoc.com.

Posted on Apr 13, 2016 by Chris Bonjean | Comments (0)
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