Are you missing out on opportunities to grow your practice, improve client retention, or expand marketing? Before you rush to answer, “No, of course not!” take a little time to reflect….
First things first: What am I talking about and why should you care?
In this context, a “missed opportunity” is an opening where you could have done something, but didn’t. The “something” could be complicated and expensive, which is a justifiable reason to let the opportunity pass. But more often than not, the “something” is easy and free (or very low-cost).
Missing out on a free or inexpensive marketing opportunity that takes minimal effort is practically criminal. And with that statement, I’ve answered my other question: why you should care.
Simple, no-cost marketing opportunities
A simple, no-cost marketing opportunity is any opening where you can leverage existing client communication to your advantage. Consider these examples:
Better client closing letters
The typical closing or disengagement letter conveys fairly perfunctory information: “Dear Client, I’m done. Here’s my bill. I’m closing your file.”
If you don’t mind missing out on marketing opportunities, continue sending routine, mechanical closing letters. If you prefer to leverage this existing client communication to your advantage, do the following:
- Take three extra minutes to humanize and personalize your closing letter. Show appreciation for something the client did or said during the case. “I know it was tedious to sift through all the pages of discovery we received, but finding (the smoking gun) completely changed the outcome of the case.” “I know listening to the testimony of (defendant) wasn’t easy by a long shot, but you kept your composure and it paid off.”
- Close the door on the task at hand, but not on the client. Invite the client to call you ANY TIME he or she is in need of help. Even if it isn’t your area of expertise, you can be the conduit to other lawyers who can assist the client.
- Cross-sell other areas of practice.
- Ask for and invite referrals.
- If you use eNewsletters or Constant Contact marketing add the client to your mailing list (or extend an invitation). [For a comparison of email marketing services, see this review on attorneyatwork.]
- Consider enclosing a client satisfaction survey. More on this next.
Client satisfaction surveys
Are you meeting your clients’ needs? Or do you assume that client needs are met because you haven’t received any complaints lately?
If the latter is true, it’s time to screw up your courage and start sending out client surveys. A well-written client survey will quickly let you know what you’re doing right and what you need to improve. Send them with your closing letter, or shortly thereafter.
For free resources and samples, see this post.
TREAT clients well: before, during, and after representation
After slaving over emails, pleadings, contracts, and billings – the “tangibles” of your law practice – you may be surprised to learn that clients place higher value on timeliness, responsiveness, empathy, and assurance. This phenomenon is encapsulated in the TREAT approach to interacting with clients. Following the principles in TREAT costs you nothing, but makes a huge difference in how clients perceive you and your firm. Read about how to use TREAT before, during, and after representation in this post. [Online client intake can be managed with services like Lexicata.]
Thank clients for referrals
Nothing says “I take you for granted” more than failing to thank your client for a referral. In reverse order of preference:
- An email or text is okay, but can come across as cold or aloof to some clients. Use this approach only when you know it fits within the client’s milieu.
- A handwritten note or card is a nice touch that stands out – hard to imagine any client who wouldn’t appreciate it.
- A call is even better. Over the phone the client can hear your tone and true appreciation for the referral. Use this chance to reconnect. “How are you? How is (spouse’s name)?” Yes, it is always possible the client may share news that isn’t 100% positive, but the point is to stay connected. You may learn that the client you were calling to thank also needs your help.
- A call followed by a handwritten note may just be the one-two punch of all “thank yous.” Yes, it involves the most effort and also takes a bit of expense.
Remember: the point here is to thank the person who thought enough of you to send a friend or family member your way. Keep that in mind when you choose how you’re going to thank clients.
This is just a start. Look for other opportunities in everyday practice to build client relationships, improve client retention, and leverage marketing.
[All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis]