Communication is at the heart of good relationships. And, it is good relationships that are at the heart of a healthy practice. Communication therefore is an essential element in building and maintaining strong relationships with your clients. Simply covering your clients over with information is not the same as effective communication. Jared Correia, in his blog post on better client communications, suggests that your clients want to know, like and trust you. That happens through communication. Here are four very specific topics that Correia posits will help you achieve that goal.
Client File Protocols: Your clients may assume that you keep their files for ever and ever. Are they right about that? Whatever your document management system is, let your clients know how their files are stored and how long they are retained. If you are still using boxes in the basement, you might want to move to an electronic document system. Here’s a simple twist on document storage. Return client files, after an appropriate timeframe, on a branded, encrypted thumb drive or let your clients download their files from a branded and secure collaboration portal.
Regular Client Communications: Are you only talking to your clients when you need to? That’s a common and costly mistake. Regular communication at scheduled intervals keeps the relationship with your clients fresh. Call or email? A call breaks through the clutter but a hand-written note can do the same. (I’m a big fan of hand written notes. You can learn more about strategies for using them in my new book, Raising the Bar: A 10 Step Guide to World Class Rainmaking, coming later this month.) For a twist on typical client communications, skip the talk about business and just chat about common interests like sports, hobbies, travel, food or other topics you share a passion for.
Teams: Do your clients know who works on their matters? Invite your clients to the office, give them a chance to meet the team and explain how each team member supports their work. Give your clients a chance to interact with the people that work on their business. If yours is a virtual practice, then video conferencing can accomplish the same thing. What’s the twist? Make each team member become memorable by using a self-stick name badge with a first name and a tag line that represents what that person is known for. Example: John – Bulldog on case law or Jane – Tax Geek.
Referrals: A successful practice is built on referrals yet many attorneys don’t ask for them. Perhaps they think it’s gauche to request a referral but your client may assume that your practice is full and you don’t want or need referrals–if you don’t ask for them. Referrals really are the easiest marketing you can do. That’s because someone else is selling for you based on the groundwork you have laid. A simple twist on asking for referrals is creating a template clients can use to recommend your services to others. They’ll know exactly what to say. It’ a win-win. (This is the system I use. If you’d like to see a sample, email me with “Sample Referral Template” in the subject line.)
Communication, handled correctly, is a low-budget, easy to accomplish strategy that can do exactly what you want it to do–help your clients know, like and trust you.