3 steps to Building Client and Team Loyalty in a Crisis

Years ago, a friend engaged lawyers to assist him during a personal and business crisis. At the time he was stressed, exhausted, confused and upset. Throughout his ordeal, his lawyers were laser focused on his case but failed to develop personal rapport and manage cost expectations.

His overall client experience (CX) as a legal service user is an all too familiar tale. With the best intentions, lawyers often leap to process, solution, and fact-finding mode before showing empathy and connecting with their client on a personal level.

I’ve thought of my friend a lot lately. As we come to grips with the challenges associated with the current crisis, I'm seeing a shift among some sectors of the profession as they square up to the new reality in which human connections, empathy and focus on the client as person (not a matter).

CX can be defined as any moment in which an impression of your organisation is formed by its service users.

Historically, CX is associated with notions of delighting clients however right now the CX focus must be on empathy, leadership, strength, decisiveness and a well-planned conversation with your most vulnerable clients.

Your organisation’s CX is more important than ever before as companies scramble to remain connected to their clients, teams and networks. Technology is enabling these connections but it is human powered CX combined with the right technology that is distinguishing the best performers in the current crisis from the rest.

We are seeing three action-oriented steps succeed in retaining and building upon client connections and providing clients with the service experiences they need at this difficult time - a client plan, a staff plan and a business plan.

Step 1 – Client Plan

We’ve all been inundated with emails and social media messages from our service providers wishing us well, letting us know what measures they have taken to protect their staff and customers and how to contact them should we need to. Many, however, have not phoned their priority clients according to those deemed most vulnerable, those involved in critical work in progress and clients at risk. When you do make these calls, connect with empathy, take time to find out more about your clients’ current experiences, share yours, acknowledge concerns and communicate clearly to them how you can help. Planned and intentional client contact will always trump an unstructured approach.

Step 2 – Team Plan

We often hear from business leaders that their teams don’t have time to innovate due to the daily demands of their business. There is no business as usual in times like this so now is the time to increase staff engagement, motivation and well-being by involving them directly in the reinvention of your business. We are seeing a willingness of some leader to do this as a means of engaging staff in the immediate term and preparing their business for recovery in the longer term. Many businesses that retained this corporate ‘muscle’ during the 2008 GFC emerged stronger as a result and recovered more quickly.

Step 3 – Service Plan

We will hear the word ‘recession’ many times in the coming weeks. Organisations who view a recession as a reinvention and act accordingly stand a far better chance at recovery and growth than those that don’t. A practical step law firms can take toward reinvention is to identify client service journey hotspots, opportunities for improvement and ideas to uplift their overall CX. There are many ways of achieving this and those that succeed will establish a valuable asset for their business and profitable differentiator for their firm.

The organisations who nail these three steps throughout this period stand to improve client trust and loyalty, retain their top talent and position themselves for growth on the other side of this crisis.