Inspire trust to keep clients loyal to your law firm.
Loyal clients are one of a law firm’s most valuable assets.
For one thing, providing counsel to existing clients is a much more efficient use of your firm’s resources than chasing down new ones. Secondly, loyal clients are both familiar with you and satisfied with your work, which makes them a great source of word-of-mouth referrals. These referrals can increase your profit margins by bringing in more work without requiring you to up your marketing budget.
So how do firms inspire client loyalty, and what should you consider as you put together your client retention strategy?
Let’s start with a riddle: how is being a lawyer like being a commercial airline pilot?
From a lawyer’s perspective, the answer is probably that it’s not. But from a client perspective, both professionals perform a complicated and mysterious role—and if they make a mistake, disaster ensues.
These days, there are plenty of legal resources available to the public, and clients may wait to contract a lawyer until they are truly in over their heads. It can be scary to entrust your business, your inheritance, or your future to a stranger, especially when you are already feeling overwhelmed—and ironically, the more resources your client has, the harder it may be for them to turn over that responsibility to you.
All of this means that inspiring trust is the most important thing you can do to keep your clients coming back and motivate them to spread the word about your firm.
Here are three ways to do just that.
There’s nothing more stressful than entrusting a big part of your life to somebody with unpredictable communication patterns or who may or may not follow through on their promises.
This makes the basics of professionalism particularly critical for law firms. The guidelines are pretty straightforward—keep your meetings, respond to emails within 24 hours, answer the phone during working hours, and always follow through on tasks—but they are also a powerful way to demonstrate your reliability.
Proving that you can be counted on gives your clients peace of mind, which is a great way to keep them enthusiastic about doing business with your firm.
Stay in Touch
Just like personal ones, business relationships require a little tending to flourish.
Luckily, there are many options to stay connected with clients—from running engaging social media accounts to sending birthday cards to throwing an annual holiday celebration.
When deciding how to allocate resources for reaching out, it is important to consider a client’s network, legal needs, and relationship with you. While funding a quarterly Michelin-starred dinner for everyone on your email list might be unwise, it makes sense to spend a little extra time and money making sure that your highest-paying clients know how much you value their business—especially if their social and professional circles include others with similar legal needs.
After all, word of mouth is still the best marketing.
Be a Human
At the end of the day, we’re all human—and clients who build an emotional connection with your firm are particularly likely to remain loyal in the long run.
There are many ways to prompt clients to engage with your brand on an emotional level. You can let your social media presence verge into the goofy, or you can make sure your clients know what you stand for by foregrounding values and purpose in your brand voice.
Of course, one of the best vehicles for human emotion is a literal human. Vulnerability and trust go hand in hand, and your clients may be processing anxiety or grief when they seek your help—or looking joyfully towards an anticipated future. Thankfully, being professional doesn’t mean that you have to be a robot. It’s okay to demonstrate empathy. In fact, bringing some authenticity to your relationship with your clients is one of the most powerful things you can do to earn their trust.
After all, if a client trusts you, they’ll trust your work, and by extension, your firm. And being a trustworthy partner is what turns a one-time contract into a mutually-beneficial ongoing business relationship.