Your business practice requires clients. You know this requires specific marketing and good communication skills. It also means developing trust and loyalty. Clients have a lot of options, but you need to make them think they only have one…
The bull’s-eye of marketing is knowing what keeps your clients up at night. You need to know what their greatest concerns are. Sometimes the nature of the economy or business environment makes it easy to tell what most people are thinking about, but other times there is no way to know without asking. In most legal situations, you don’t want to be caught asking a question that you don’t already know the answer to. However, when it comes to client relations, be open and curious. Not only will asking more questions help you properly market, but it will encourage discourse with your current clients and help them feel comfortable with you.
It is also important to identify service offering gaps. If there is something your client needs, and you don’t currently – but could reasonable provide – that service, then do it. If you are a one man show, that might mean getting some help. Whether that help comes on as-needed basis through individuals and firms like Blackstone, or with a full-time staffer who can help you manage the day-to-day tasks as you fill in your service offering gaps – remember to ask for help. It’s okay to ask for help, it really is – especially as you grow and maintain your business.
Once you have landed a client, it is important to develop a relationship that will keep the client happy and increase your marketing via word-of-mouth. This requires good communication skills. There are four keys to developing and maintaining a secure attorney-client relationship:
1. Verbal Communication – Some things need to be said in person or on the phone. Try to match your clients preferred method for correspondence. If they email you a lot, email them. If they call a lot, call them. The more they feel you are just like them, the more comfortable they will be.
2. Good Listening – Be careful not to interrupt or rehearse your responses while your client is still talking. Try to identify your client’s underlying feelings or motivations. Don’t be afraid to talk on their level; there is no need to demonstrate your prowess or intelligence by confusing them and putting distance in the relationship.
3. Be Curious and Open – Allow yourself to believe that you don’t know them or their situation and that everyone is different. Really get to know your client and be interested in their story. This will develop a feeling of a friendship that will encourage client loyalty.
4. Maintain Value – While developing a feeling of friendship is important, your client did not come to you be your friend or learn more about you. Make sure everything you say is of value to them. Be clear and succinct when needed. Be whatever your client needs you to be and they will feel like they are getting a great value for their money.
My thoughts and comments
I won’t lie to you. I am a believer that in todays world any business that wants to stay in business and thrive (I hate the word “thrive” for reasons I won’t go into here, but the word is the mot juste for my purposes here) must master marketing and make marketing one its top priorities on a daily, yearly, and long-term basis. Why? As markets expand across the country and the world , it becomes harder to stand out in the crowd by virtue of just one’s brand or reputation. Customers and clients have pretty much everything they need and want. Modern customers are not accustomed to shopping around, so when it comes time for them to purchase a new good or service, they don’t want to expend much effort or time to decide what’s best for them–they want others (the sellers) to do that for them. That’s why good marketing (not just incessant advertising) is key.
I couldn’t put this any better myself. “Knowing what keeps your clients up at night” does not, in my opinion, mean that you exploit their fears and wants. It means instead that you use this knowledge to create products and services that assuage fears, satisfy needs and wants, and thus make your business and what it sells valuable.
Frankly, it isn’t hard to scare a client into hiring a lawyer. We see no justification for doing that. We’d much rather the client come to his/her own, considered, calm, rational conclusion that utilizing a lawyer’s services makes sense to him/her.
I agree, and to that end, we at Utah Family Law, LC we are focusing on improving our ability to identify and satisfy service offering gaps. We’re not doing this just to make more money (although that is plainly one of our objectives–we can’t do good work and improve our services without getting paid, period), but to ensure we remain responsive and relevant to the market as it changes and as the desires of client’s develop and change.
Yes, good “communication skills” are important to developing and maintaining happy clients, but what I see that matters most is delivering value consistently.
Anyone who deals with us knows that we are one of the most responsive law firms on the planet; you’ll forgive me, then, if I pat my firm on the back here.
Hear, hear! But remember: the legal system is a mess. If you want it to make sense or have your attorney explain it to you in a manner that makes sense, you’re in for disappointment. A good lawyer can clear away some of the crud, but your attorney can never show you the way the system “works,” because frankly, the system is broken. The value of a lawyer isn’t so much in helping you understand it, but in guiding you through it whether you understand it or not.
Yes! So few divorce and family law attorneys listen to their clients. Frankly, few clients listen to their attorneys. If attorneys and clients would spend more time seeking to understand and agree with each other, attorneys would be more effective and clients would be better educated and aware of what constitutes a fair outcome of their law suit.
Ah, I see that Blackstone agrees with me.