Steve Marchese posted "The Etiquette of Following Up" at The Lawyerist this week, giving job seekers some excellent pointers when they have not heard from prospective employers post interview. He encourages follow-up and says, "Don't be afraid to pick up the phone."
Marchese reminded me how important the task of follow-up is for paralegals, and how critical it is to the success of a law firm's current client relations and word-of-mouth marketing. Even when we're feeling overwhelmed by deadlines, following up with clients, as well as new intakes, is always a priority.
Here are a few recommendations for mastering the fine art of following up for paralegals:
- Keep a checklist of individuals who need a return call or email, so they don't get "back-burnered" or forgotten.
- Do your best to return calls within 24 hours - or sooner, if the issue is an emergency.
- Ask callers if they prefer return telephone calls or emails, and note their preference for future reference.
- Send old-fashioned "snail mail" to let them know you tried to call - or to provide the information they requested, if you can't talk to the caller, are unable to leave a message, or haven't exchanged emails within 24 hours.
- Let them know what you or your firm is doing to address the situation, even if you can't immediately answer their questions or resolve their problems
- Put yourself in the clients' shoes and remember how important it would be for you to have your own calls returned.
A quick return phone call to a client, even to say "I'm sorry that you're experiencing this situation but we're working on it" can mean the difference between a client that feels acknowledged and well taken care of – or one that feels ignored and steaming mad.
I've even gotten the less-than-thrilling assignment of preparing rejection letters to job applicants, but it's just basic good manners not to let them "suffer in silence," wondering if they are still being considered for a position that's been filled.