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Once you’ve damaged trust, it is very hard to restore it. This is especially true if you’ve damaged trust before a relationship has even begun. Here are 10 ways law firms can diminish trust with potential clients:

  1. Slow response. Law firms spend a ton of money trying to make the phone ring, but when it does, they have no process in place for having that call answered by a person trained to answer a prospect’s questions or they fail to return a call promptly.
  2. Long wait times. Appointments are set at a specific time and then the prospect has to wait in the lobby. You just told them you are more important than they are.
  3. Inattention to detail. The prospect’s name is spelled wrong on the welcome packet or in a confirmation email — or worse, you’ve cut and pasted the wrong name altogether.
  4. Bait and switch. You are marketing your free e-book promising detailed information and when the prospect downloads it, it’s only a brief article with a sales pitch attached.
  5. Free consultation isn’t free. Most law firms offer free consultations to get people in the door. But then some limit the time or have other strings attached.
  6. Telling other clients’ stories. It’s common to use a past case story to illustrate how you’ve helped another client with the same problem as your prospect, but revealing too much can make a prospect wonder if they will be the next cautionary tale told to others. It can also violate attorney-client confidentiality.
  7. Not guarding privacy. A prospect walks into your office for a consult and sees case files openly visible and clearly readable. Will you be so cavalier with his or her private information?
  8. Talking out of school. While cooling their heels in your lobby, a prospect hears others in your office openly discussing cases — or worse, talking trash about a client.
  9. Puffery on your website. A prospect reads on your website about the extensive experience you’ve had with cases just like his, but when he comes in for a consult, you can’t answer his questions.
  10. Obfuscation. You dodge questions about pricing or how long the case will take, leaving the prospect to wonder if you’re hiding something or just have no idea. Either way, it makes your prospect very uncomfortable.

You don’t create great client relationships without first building trust. Examine your current intake process and find the holes where trust can be lost.