As patent attorneys of all law firms know, it’s vitally important to get to know your client and their intellectual property professionally. In addition a strong personal connection goes a long way toward building a foundation of trust. A good attorney-client relationship is also a very effective way of turning your client into a repeat client and potentially get word-of-mouth advertising. Not sure where to start? Here are some easy things you can do to connect with patent clients and strengthen relationships.
Every inventor wants to know where they stand in the patent application process. It’s an integral piece of the business or project that they’re trying to build. Communicating regularly through a good attorney-client relationship is key to helping them feel at ease with your work and let them know how things are progressing.
Email is a great option but try not to make all of your correspondence electronic. No one makes phone calls these days so taking the time out of your day to call and speak to them directly about the patent application process or even leave a voicemail is a nice personal touch. Even something as simple as letting them know when paperwork has been submitted lets them know that you’re on top of it and you care enough to keep them up to date.
Show Your Appreciation
Sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Sometimes, along with legal advice, a simple “thank you” goes a long way in building a relationship. Again, email is fine but think about the impact of a handwritten thank you note. Whether it’s after an initial meeting or when the patent is finally issued, letting a client know that you enjoyed working with them is a small thing that can make a big difference. If they ever need another patent, you’ll be the first person they call.
Listen to Feedback
By giving clients an opportunity to tell you exactly what made them happy and what didn’t, you’ll get a better understanding of what you’re doing right and where you need to improve. Obviously, this is important for all patent attorneys because it helps you make changes that can improve your business down the line, but consider this; inventors tend to socialize and work with like-minded people. They may even work for a large company or university that frequently seeks patents. By letting clients know that you not only value their opinion and their intellectual property but are also willing to make changes based on their feedback, you gain respect and strengthen your connection. This is a great way to make more connections and bring in even more clients.
Understand Different Perspectives
Trying to identify with your client’s perspective is really important. It can be hard to remember that they’re not seeing the process the same way that you are. You’re the patent agent or patent attorney. Filing for patents is literally your job and you do it all the time. In some cases, clients have been working years if not longer to get their idea to the point where they could patent it. They don’t care about your other clients or the work you’ve done before, they care about their invention and how capable you are of helping them secure their patent. For some of these clients, a lot is riding on a patent. While it may be just another day at the office for you, it’s not for them. By empathizing with them and communicating that you understand their point of view, you’ll strengthen your connection and make them feel heard and respected.
This is as applicable in patent law as it is in any other part of life, professionally or personally. Don’t lecture your clients. Don’t talk at them and don’t hit them with too much technical information at once. Instead, try to be more conversational. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you should fill meetings with idle chit-chat. You still have to get vital information across, but do make sure to pause occasionally and ask if they have any questions. Find out if they’re concerned about any part of the process or what they’re most anxious about. This is another way to help them feel like they’re being heard and that you respect them.
No one wants to feel like they’re just another client in your address book. Sometimes, it’s better to just be genuine and forget about networking. By making real connections with clients, you stand out. Take the time to ask them questions and get to know them. Show them that there is real value to working with you, not just because you are a patent attorney and they are seeking a patent, but because you’re you. It’s a cliché, but it’s true that you have something to offer that no one else does. Don’t worry about trying to get more clients or networking. Instead, focus on giving your clients the best possible experience they can have. Believe it or not, making clients happy is one of the best ways to get more clients.
The Importance of Connecting
The truth is, if your client feels connected to you, the entire patent process will go much smoother for everyone involved. The more trust there is, the more you can do your job without worrying that the inventor will think what you’re doing is unnecessary. In the off-chance that there’s a glitch in the process, your client will know that you’ve done the best work you can which will take some of the pressure off.
From a business perspective, connecting with your patent law client is one of the easiest ways to grow your practice. As mentioned earlier, a lot of inventors work with other people who are working on new things and may even work for large think tanks or entities whose sole purpose is to come up with new ideas that need patents. If you make one client happy, there’s a strong likelihood that they’ll tell others how wonderful the experience was. If that’s the case, more and more potential clients will be reaching out.
There’s some truth to the idea of killing people with kindness. By listening, empathizing, and understanding, it’s much easier to make connections that benefit both you and your client.