Many people who need legal services consult lawyers, but the lawyers they consult often aren’t the ones they hire.
This is undeniably frustrating for lawyers. Even though they provide informative, methodical legal advice about a potential client’s next steps, they don’t get to provide those next steps. And when that happens often enough, this question surfaces in lawyers’ minds: Is it me?
Potential clients hire specific lawyers for a number of reasons. But it is important to reflect on your firm’s customer service approach when interacting with potential clients. What can your firm do to build more rapport with potential clients?
Be Where They’re Looking
Being online is the best way to be found these days. Certainly, potential clients ask friends and co-workers for recommendations for legal needs. But, more and more, those with legal questions are going to the internet.
From your local Bar Association to the many online listings, including SimpleLaw, potential clients can easily research attorneys from the comfort of their own laptop, tablet, or phone. Want to connect with more potential clients? Make sure your profile is up on as many reputable sites as possible. From SimpleLaw to Yelp and more, potential clients are visiting and searching. Online profile resources make it easy for you to connect with these potential clients. From text alerts to email notifications, as long as you are reading them, you will know.
Be Quick on the Response
To draw potential clients into your practice, you need to be quick to respond to them. Potential clients can quickly find attorneys and send messages to them in little time with the help of attorney search features, and they'll often engage with the first attorneys that respond to them.
We’ve brainstormed some tips to help be quicker on the response:
- Dedicate an email address exclusively for new-client connections. This will keep all initial queries and contacts from potential clients in one inbox, making them easier to manage.
- Set specific times of the day to check this email inbox. Perhaps once in the morning and once in the evening.
- Prioritize answering missed calls and emails when you begin your workday. This way your responses to potential clients are received at the start of their day as well.
- Develop a standard email reply for potential clients when they contact your firm’s business email. A standard email response confirms that your firm received a potential client's message and will review it.
By carefully managing communication into your law practice, you’ll be able to more carefully respond to opportunities to engage potential clients.
Be Prepared to Support Them
When you meet with a potential client, remember they most likely have not had a previous legal matter. Be prepared to walk them through how matters typically evolve. It will reduce some of their anxieties.
Prepare a simple guide or FAQ for them. It’s great to give them something they can refer to as their matter proceeds.
This guide should include:
- Billing options and distinctions between billable and non-billable tasks,
- Information on how your firm works with clients (through legal technology or not),
- Standard procedures with the firm,
- And the agreement to engage the firm.
Taking a client-centric approach from the start builds rapport and trust. It can make the difference between hiring your firm over another.
Follow Up with Potential Clients
After your first meeting, follow up with a potential client within a few days. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, as the saying goes. Phone calls are always best, even in this digital age, but online methods are effective as well.
In this follow-up, provide a review of your first meeting. Remind them about the discussion of their legal matter and standard procedures of your firm. Then, outline next steps for the potential client. Propose upcoming dates for a second meeting to conduct case intake and sign necessary paperwork.
These follow-ups are essential to building rapport with potential clients. They demonstrate initiative, interest, and concern on your firm’s part. They reveal an attentiveness and professionalism that is highly persuasive from a customer service perspective.
Stay in Touch
This goes for those who hired your firm and those who didn’t. Building rapport doesn’t stop with the decision to hire or not hire.
Keep these connections healthy. With their permission, add them to your email list. Include them in quarterly client newsletters or invite them to participate in a “Refer a Friend” program. It’s all about balance, though. Stay top of mind if someone asks them for a referral. But don’t pester them, either. Keep those emails quarterly, short and sweet. Include useful information about a change in legal precedent or tips on handling an issue in your local area, like rising property taxes. You get the idea.
And remember the golden rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Remember that when potential clients reach out. And remember that when they are asking questions, too. Being client-centric builds rapport and your practice.