Martha M. Newman 2016-04-25 05:32:20
Bonding How to build strong client relationships. The ability to bond with new clients and cultivate ongoing, profitable relationships requires skillful use of language, listening, and facial expressions that make clients feel cared for and comforted. Here are ways to let prospects know that you are genuinely concerned about their problems. Create a Connection Use two magic words. The word we fosters immediate rapport. We makes the listening client feel connected to you and conveys to the client a subconscious feeling of you and I against the cold, cruel world. So, if you want to bond with a new client, use the word we to create a sense of camaraderie. Also, start sentences with you instead of I, when possible. You immediately grabs your client’s attention because it is everyone’s favorite word. Clients will respond favorably to what you have to say, partially because you have pushed their pride buttons with the frequent use of you. Let their fuel tanks hit empty. Your new client’s brain is like a topped-off tank of gas brimming with thoughts and worries. If you want your clients to listen to your advice, first let them empty their tanks by allowing their words to flow. Wait patiently until they have told their entire stories; only then will they truly pay attention to what you have to say. Five seconds clients remember. The first five seconds—the greeting, the hello, the receptionist’s answer—influence client satisfaction profoundly. Clients love feeling welcome. Are your clients greeted quickly and warmly? What immediate impression does your office make? Does the receptionist desk face the people who enter your office? Are your telephones always answered pleasantly and within three rings? Does your office feel alive? Listen intently. This demands concentration and a genuine desire to understand the client’s problems. Part of effective listening is making clients feel completely understood and valued. How? By mirroring the client’s body language and reflecting back his or her thoughts and feelings to create immediate rapport. Use Words Strategically Employ empathizers. Show empathy with more than an unconscious uh huh or umm. Use acknowledgements, such as I see what you mean, or That’s interesting. Tell me more. When you respond with complete sentences instead of grunts, your listener feels that you really understand and care. Treat clients’ anger carefully. When clients emote, comfort them with words that show you hear what they are saying and you understand why they are angry or frustrated. Use phrases, such as You must feel terrible, I’m so sorry you are going through such pain and aggravation, or What an awful experience you have had. This will calm a client’s emotional storm. Frame your words. Use silence in conversations with clients just as you would use white space in your writing to draw attention to the text that follows. Being silent before speaking brings your words into high relief and imbues them with authority. Silence suggests that your words matter. It is hard to resist talking about all you know, but speaking nonstop, without pausing, makes you appear nervous or eager to show how smart you are. This kind of one-way communication turns off clients and prevents you from establishing the rapport necessary for relationship-building. Avoid the naked thank you. People use the bare, curt thank you or thanks so often that it becomes a throwaway. People appreciate your gratitude when you are specific about the reason you are thanking them. So, never let the words thank you stand naked and alone. Always make it thank you for something: • Thank you for being so understanding. • Thank you for being such a good client. • Thank you for waiting. Turn stories into mind pictures. Don’t only listen to what your client is saying. Picture it. Create in your mind a visual—a movie, even—of the client’s story. This will help you understand and remember the key elements. If you retain only the words, you will soon forget them. Envisioning the client’s account as you hear it imprints the story in your mind. Manage Facial Expressions Flooding smiles and sticky eyes. Your facial expressions and nonverbal communication comprise more than 80 percent of a potential client’s first impression. An immediate smile given to everyone makes no one feel special. When you have cause to smile during client meetings, pause for just a moment before you smile. Then let a big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes. The split-second delay lets people know you are genuine. Likewise, continuous eye contact when the client is speaking can be extremely advantageous in arousing feelings of respect for you and trust in your judgment. Maintaining strong eye contact also gives clients the impression that you are intelligent—a good impression to make! So pretend your eyes are glued to your client’s while you are listening. Don’t break eye contact even after your client has finished speaking. When you look away, do so slowly and reluctantly. Choose one or two of the ideas in this article to implement on a trial basis. You stand to gain new clients who give you repeat business, not only because you provide excellent legal representation but also because they value the meaningful relationship you are consciously cultivating. MARTHA M. NEWMAN is a former oil and gas litigator and owner of Top Lawyer Coach. Newman has been awarded the Professional Certified Coach credential by the International Coach Federation in recognition of her coaching excellence. She specializes in lawyer coaching, training, facilitating, and speaking in the areas of business development, career advancement, and law firm management. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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