It’s that most wonderful time of the year. Everyone is torn between on-line shopping and working. And, for the lawyers out there, they have to get those final hours billed. They have to get those year-end bills out to the clients, and turn them around before December 31st.

On top of it all, they’re all wondering: Do I have to send client gifts? Do I need to send holiday cards? Can I have my secretary sign the holiday card? Why is the marketing department on me to visit my clients? Marketing plans? Budgets? Ughhhhh!!!!!!

Yes, it’s December. And this year we all have the added pressure of the unknown. Will the recession take off or will the economy pick up? Will my work be valued, or will I be jettisoned like the corporate finance folks? Are my clients flush with cash, or are they caught up in the credit crunch?

There is a lot to think about right now. But client service should never be set aside, good times or bad. There are three simple things you can do, every day.

  1. Know your clients.
  2. Know your clients’ businesses.
  3. Add value to your client relationships.

If you’re not already following your clients on-line and in the press, don’t delay any longer. You must do the following:

  • Set up a daily Google alert on key clients, key people, and key words/terms.
  • Register on clients’ websites to receive newsletters and press releases.
  • Subscribe to clients’ corporate and personal blogs.
  • Add their blogs to your Blogroll.
  • Connect with your clients on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Join the top industry associations aligned with your clients, and/or subscribe to their daily news recaps.

But my best piece of advice is an oldie but goodie: go visit your clients. I don’t care if you have to drive across town, or book a road trip. In today’s uncertain times you need to find a few things out:

  1. How is the economy affecting their businesses? Their industries? Their competitors?
  2. What trends are they tracking?
  3. Has their budget for outside counsel changed in 2009? If so, how?
  4. What type of work do they expect to send out, keep in-house?

You need to know if they are happy with the work you are providing. What do they expect from you in 2009 in terms of work product and value added services?

Now is not the time to sit back and guess. Just get out there and ask.