Responsiveness: The Overlooked Key to Building Successful Client Relationships in the Digital Age

March 5th, 2024

Responsiveness: The Overlooked Key to Building Successful Client Relationships in the Digital Age

Responsiveness: The Overlooked Key to Building Successful Client Relationships in the Digital Age

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In today’s hyper-connected world, our devices keep us tethered to work even during off-hours. While taking breaks is crucial for well-being, being responsive remains a cornerstone of client and business relationships. Yet, it’s surprising how often this simple aspect is overlooked.

It’s a major pet peeve of mine when emails go unanswered, and I know many share this sentiment. Let’s delve into why responsiveness matters and how it’s an easy fix.

I understand lawyers are swamped with tasks. Time is indeed money. However, it baffles me when attorneys ignore emails expressing interest in referrals or potential business opportunities.

If someone approached me with a genuine business inquiry, I’d respond promptly. It’s common courtesy and good business sense.

Many attorneys have assistants and smartphones at their disposal. Delegating email responses or sending a quick acknowledgment, like “Received your message and will revert shortly,” is a simple yet effective way to show you’re attentive without making commitments.

Responsive communication signals, “I value you and your business.” This holds true for ongoing client matters as well. Even if the answer is uncertain or negative, acknowledging emails promptly demonstrates care and professionalism.

Clients often gauge a lawyer’s reliability through small interactions. Hence, no email should be deemed insignificant. Even if there’s no update to provide, a quick acknowledgment fosters trust and goodwill.

This isn’t just hearsay. I’ve heard countless clients express the desire for more responsiveness from their legal counsel. My own experiences as a client echo this sentiment. A responsive lawyer not only instills confidence but also earns long-term loyalty and referrals.

So, ask yourself: Am I as responsive as I could be?

Reflect on this: The busiest, most successful lawyers I know are also the most responsive. It’s not a coincidence. Being busy doesn’t preclude being responsive. It’s about priorities and professionalism.

To sum up, responsiveness in emails means:

Acknowledging new matters or inquiries within 24 hours, even if it’s just a receipt confirmation.

Providing updates, even if it’s to say you don’t have the information yet.

Delegating email acknowledgments to assistants where feasible.

There is also a flip side to this and that is the disappearing email – technology is NOT infallible and I have seen emails disappear into the ether with the sender then assuming that the receiver is simply non-responsive (since that is often the norm!). Which brings me to another point – miscommunication and confusion can often be solved easily by…picking up the phone!

Somehow, we’ve become anxious about the phone – we’d rather jump on a face-to-face Zoom or Teams call than dial a phone number, and when emails remain unanswered, we assume the other person is being rude or worse, unprofessional. When there is a communication snafu, perhaps we can all resolve to be a little more diligent in resolving it, particularly when it comes to the care of our own clients, and rather than sending yet another email, we can pick up the phone to ensure that technology isn’t getting in our way.

Remember, responsiveness signals care, while non-responsiveness conveys the opposite. Which side do you choose?

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