The best way to get new clients is to keep your current ones happy. Go the extra mile, deliver great service, exceed their expectations – and they’ll sing your praises to their friends, family and co-workers. Before long, your calendar will be filled with new appointments.
Here are Marketing Practice Pointers for the first quarter of 2022, with a focus on your existing clients. A reminder: focus on one each week, keep a record of what you do, and be patient. You’re planting seeds for growth. It may take a little time to see the fruits.
Marketing Practice Pointers for 2022
Q1 Focus: Current Clients
1. Review all of your open cases. Pull out your case roster and make sure you’re on top of all active matters. If any have been neglected, get to work on them. Flag the cases that are draining your resources (and sanity) and hold little promise of profitability, as well as those you should have never taken in the first place. Drop the client and close the case if it’s ethically possible (be sure to follow the Rules of Professional Conduct on terminating representation and withdrawing from litigation). This will free you up to focus on profitable cases (and marketing).
2. Schedule monthly case reviews. Set up a tickler system (if you don’t already have one) and schedule monthly status updates for every ongoing matter. This will keep things moving and help identify problem cases early on.
3. Stay in front of your clients. Reach out to every client at least monthly, preferably weekly. Your staff can help. It can be as simple as a “Just checking in” email, text or phone call. Let your client know you’re thinking of them, and that you’re there if they need you. Don’t bill for this.
4. Follow up with prospects. Whenever you speak with a prospective client, always follow up and thank them for contacting you. If it’s a good case, tell them you’d love to represent them. If it’s a bad case (or one outside your comfort zone), thank them anyway and invite them to contact you with any future matters. Send a non-engagement letter if there is ambiguity or doubt as to whether you accepted representation.
5. Know the rules. Rule 1.4 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct says a lawyer shall: (1) promptly inform clients of any decision or circumstance that requires informed consent, (2) consult with clients about the means by which to accomplish their objectives, (3) keep clients reasonably informed about their case status, (4) promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, and (5) consult with clients about relevant limitations on your conduct. The rule also requires you to explain matters sufficiently so that clients can make good decisions.
6. Ask your clients the Golden Question. Starting in the initial interview and continuing with every subsequent contact, always conclude by asking: “Is there any other problem or concern I can help you with at this time?” You never know. Although they might have come to you for a simple divorce, they might have been in a car accident the prior week, or need a will, or want advice for their small business.
7. Cross market your services. Make sure every client you encounter – regardless of the nature of their case – is aware of the full range of services you offer. And if you don’t practice in that area, tell them you know a good lawyer down the hall or down the street who does.
8. Give your clients a great experience. Customer service is not the same as customer experience. It’s one thing to deliver competent, timely service (in fact, that’s your baseline ethical obligation). It’s next-level to do the job AND give the client a positive experience. Create written guidelines for client relations. Include things like courtesy, efficiency, patience and responsiveness. Get input from all members of your team, especially those on the front lines who most often deal with clients. The goal: provide a stellar experience at every step in the client’s journey from first interview to file closing.
9. Use client testimonials. Social proof is a potent marketing tool. A staggering 90 percent of consumers looking for a lawyer read online reviews and testimonials before making their decision. Ask clients to post favorable reviews on Yelp, Avvo, Google My Business and other rating sites. Request client testimonials for your website and marketing materials. Make them anonymous if the client prefers.
10. Conduct client surveys. How to know if you’re giving your client a great experience? Ask them. Use an online tool like Survey Monkey or Mailchimp, or create your own survey. Keep it short and sweet with a few simple questions. Or hire an outside firm to conduct client interviews by telephone or in person. Some clients will be more candid talking to someone not connected to your firm.
11. Listen to your clients. Be an active listener, even if you’ve heard variations of their story a hundred times before. Make eye contact. Ask questions for clarification. In initial interviews, the prospect should do most of the talking. When you do speak, the goal should be to clarify what the client is saying, not to pontificate about how terrific you are.
12. Show empathy. What clients want from a lawyer is to be seen, heard and acknowledged (without judgment). A prospective client who leaves your office thinking “My lawyer really understands me” will be a client for life.
13. Build relationships. Don’t view clients as case matters or revenue sources. Forge relationships built on trust, respect and collaboration. They’ll return when they need future help – and they’ll tell others to call you as well.
BONUS PRACTICE POINTER: Say thank you. Clients have lots of lawyers to choose from. Thank them for choosing you.
Click here for your marketing to-do list for Q2 2022.
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