“Strive not to be a success. Strive to be of value.” – Albert Einstein
Previously we wrote the four tips that will boost your collection rate. Here in this post we continue with another important link in the relationship between lawyers and clients: namely, the invoices. Do you pay these essential tools the attention they deserve?
Are your invoices clear and easy-to-understand?
Are you specific when you prepare your invoices? What level of the detail do you give when describing bits and pieces of your services? Here you should avoid general language as far as possible, if you wish your clients to understand what are they paying for.
To name an example, descriptors like “preparation of documents” or “drafting motions” is a no-go, as it does not state clearly what was your role in the whole process.
Most of the clients might not be skilled in legalese, but they might very much understand the process of work. Hence, make sure you avoid legalese when communicating the value, and instead be clear about describing the process, major milestones and outcomes that you assisted your client with.
Therefore, break your work specification into the bite-size chunks, describe who done it, when was it completed, and then go to the next piece – right until you reach the finish line. This way clients will easily understand all the tasks and processes that you have undergone on their behalf in order to protect their best interest.
Do not point the work – point the result you achieved
Yes, you should be as detailed as possible when drafting the work report or an invoice for your clients. However, what we often see with lawyers is that they tend to go out of their way when describing all the work they have completed.
Is this really what you feel your client needs?
What if your invoice would point the actual benefits your client got because of your work? What if you could invoke that special feeling in your clients’ minds, the “Oh, yeah, right! (S)he really helped out with this one” feeling? Did you ever consider you could use your invoices for such purpose?
Do your great work, as you always do, then use every appropriate occasion to remind your clients why you are an indispensable part of their business. Sending out the bill is actually a great opportunity for doing so.
Ask your clients if they feel they got real value
While many law firm partners see invoices as mere tools for communicating the outstanding amount, you can actually turn your invoices into a platform for discussing the value with your clients.
Sure, you should still keep the primary function of the invoice. But what if you also asked your clients for a sincere feedback on your service? Revolutionary? Or plainly logical?
You should use every chance to check how your clients perceive you. Hence, invite them to tell you if they also agree and feel they got the value you just described.
Let me give you a perfect example – Miller Titerle, a Vancouver based law firm, actually grants their clients an option to discount and pay the discounted bill, provided they are not entirely happy with their service. However, if clients decide to do so, they must have a brief talk with some of the law firm partners, and provide the feedback.
What a wonderful way to close the feedback loop! As long as you stay open to the critics, your clients will be more than happy to let you know how can you improve. This approach, if applied consistently, will guarantee you a champion position among your competitors.
Not to mention that it will reinforce your position as the value provider.
Anything to add?