Denver Bar Association
March 2003
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Keep Clients in the Loop, You Out of Hot Seat

by Trey Ryder

Returned phone calls can be the source of great frustration to the person who left the message. Here are ways you can help prevent bad feelings regarding returned calls.

Explain to Your Clients

    1. Promise your clients that you will always return their call as soon as you can. This assures your clients that you’re not trying to avoid them and reinforces they are important to you.

    2. Explain to your client why, on occasion, you may not return a call for (whatever period of time). Clients are more understanding if you ask them to appreciate demands on your time.

    3. Tell your clients when you like to return calls. If your clients know what to expect, they are less likely to get upset when they doesn’t receive your call within the first hour.

    4. Ask your clients to please call again if they hasn’t heard from you in (whatever period of time). Explain that someone might have lost their message.

    5. Tell your clients to ask your secretary for help. Your secretary may be able to give your clients a quick response and save you the need to return the call.

Your Receptionist Can Help

    1. When clients call at a time you’re not available, ask your receptionist to set a time for the return call that is convenient for both parties. This saves the caller from sitting around waiting for your call, all the time wondering why you haven’t called sooner.

    2. Ask your receptionist to inquire about the nature of the call so you can have the file in front of you when you call back. Make sure the receptionist maintains an attitude of helpfulness and doesn’t sound as if he or she is trying to pry or screen the call.

    3. Ask your receptionist to inquire whether the matter is urgent. If so, the receptionist should find someone else in the office who can help the caller or calm the situation until you return.

    4. If you expect to be out of the office for a while, ask your receptionist to explain this to callers so they don’t think you’re trying to avoid them.

Your preventive measures and your receptionist’s skills can ensure that your clients know their call is important.

Trey Ryder is a law-firm consultant who specializes in Education-Based Marketing. He offers three free articles by e-mail: 7 Secrets of Dignified Marketing, 17 Fatal Marketing Mistakes Lawyers Make, and 11 Deadly Assumptions That Kill Your Marketing Program. Send your name and e-mail address to and ask for his free e-mail packet of articles.

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