Rules for Managing Client Expectations
By Pat Yevics
In last month's column, I talked about the problems of client expectations
in a 24-7 world. This month, I want to actually give some suggestions on rules
for managing your client expectations.
As always, there are exceptions and caveats. For instance, if you have already
allowed some clients to access your private space and time (day or night),
it may be difficult (if not impossible) to break the habit. In some rare cases,
it might even be critical to allow them this type of access, but not for all
clients in all situations.
Unlike other "administrative" rules and procedures, some clients may have
to be treated differently depending about their case or situation. Having given
my disclaimers, let's see if we can set some guidelines.
Many firms and many clients use e-mail. You need to set parameters for
the use of e-mail (this is necessary for confidentiality issues as well as
|| Rule: The Yevics Law Firm uses e-mail
to correspond with clients. Someone from the firm will respond to all e-mails
within 24 hours. However, we may not be able to answer your question within
those 24 hours, especially if the matter requires some research. All e-mails
will be billed the same as a phone call. (Note: If you do not bill for
return phone calls, this is not necessary. You may not wish to put this
in your procedures.)
|| Rule: The Yevics Law Firm will not send
any confidential information via e-mail. We suggest that clients not send
any questions that may be sensitive or confidential via e-mail.
|| Rule: Please inform us if you wish
to be contacted by e-mail and how often you check and respond to your e-mail.
|| Rule: It is not the policy of the Yevics
Law Firm to forward client e-mails outside of the firm. If we feel the
need to forward information that you have sent us in an e-mail, we will
first obtain permission. Forwarding e-mails should not be allowed for many
reasons, most notably because you do not know in whose mailbox it will
land. (If you have not heard or seen the tale of the two Boston lawyers
whose e-mails were circulated all over the globe, go to www.boston.com and
click on "E-mailers get testy.")
If you use your cell phone in the same way that you use your office phone,
then some of these rules may not apply. If you have an office phone, then I
think you should not put your cell phone on your card or give it out
to all clients. If your cell phone is your office phone, then you might want
to consider a separate personal phone.
|| Rule: Use of cell phones is now universal.
We use our cell phones for business purposes but our cell phone numbers
are not to be used except for emergencies. We check our voicemail regularly
and will make certain that our voicemail gives detailed information about
our schedule on a daily basis.
When leaving a message, please let us know if we may call you at home after
regular business hours. We will make every effort to have someone contact you
at a time that is convenient for you. If your case or situation is such that
you need to reach us in an emergency, we will provide you with an emergency
(This is where you will list those situations that you think a client should
contact you at home or at your cell phone.)
|| Rule: Your case or matter is very important
to you and it is very important to our firm as well. There may be times
when you have an emergency and need to contact us. If this applies to your
case, we will give you our home/cell phone numbers. The following can be
considered emergencies which would require you to call our home/cell phone…
Another concern with (primarily electronic) 24-7 communication is security.
The more information we send into cyberspace, the more we are coming to realize
that much of it is not secure and confidential.
There will not be enough space in this article to discuss all of the details
of security related to electronic and wireless technology; we will address
that in future articles.
In the interim, here are some sites that discuss issues related to WiFi security.
|| How WiFi Works - computer.howstuffworks.com/wireless-network5.htm
|| Complete Guide to WiFi Security - www.jiwire.com/wi-fi-security-introduction-overview.htm
|| WiFi Security for small businesses from
Hewlett Packard - www.hp.com/sbso/productivity/howto/it_wifisecurity/index.html
I think that we should all be using the technologies that are available to
provide our clients with outstanding service. However, we should be
the ones setting the rules to ensure that we can manage our time effectively.
We should not be using the technologies to work more, but rather to work better.