Keeping clients

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My wife called to cancel a service we no longer need. After a few questions, the girl who answered the phone turned the call over to her manager.

He asked more questions. Were we unhappy with the service, did the rep do something wrong, is there anything the company could do to get us to stay, how about a free month of service?

Normal questions.

When we didn’t bite, the manager played the guilt card. He pointed out that the rep would suffer financially from our departure.

If that’s part of the script, they need a new script. Even if that strategy works, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

I’m guessing they’re getting a lot of cancellations right now and they’re feeling the pinch.

Anyway, the experience reminded me to remind you that having a retention strategy in place is important for lawyers.

When a client calls to tell you they’re leaving or they’re unhappy with something or they want you to stop working on their case, you should be prepared to ask questions, put out fires, and keep them on board.

And be prepared to work things out with them when they say (or it appears) they can’t afford to continue.

Think it through, write it out, spitball it with your team, and make sure everyone is trained on what to say and do.

Because it’s going to happen.

But, here’s the thing. There’s only so much you can say or do and only so many clients will stay.

That’s life.

What you can do is prepare their exit for their eventual return and for referrals.

Tell them you understand, accommodate their needs, apologize if appropriate, tell them they’re welcome back if their situation changes, and wish them well.

And whatever you do, don’t play the guilt card.

How to get former clients to send you referrals

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I don’t like your attitude, bub

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My wife and I went out for a ride yesterday. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed getting out of the house. We drove towards the beach and went to a grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner.

Outside the store was a young lady wearing a mask and offering to disinfect shopper’s carts. She greeted us warmly. On our way out of the store, she told us to have a nice afternoon.

On our way home, we remembered something we needed and stopped at another grocery store.

My wife stayed in the car while I walked up to the store. In front was an older man with a similar disinfectant set-up as the first store.

But this guy wasn’t friendly. He didn’t greet me.

As I walked up to the store, he said, “Do you have a mask? You can’t come in here without a mask.”

I had a mask in my pocket. I brought it with me just in case we went someplace that required it.

Like this store.

I could have put on the mask but I didn’t. There was something about the way this guy said what he said that rankled me. He was scolding me and I didn’t like it.

I didn’t complain, I simply turned around and walked back to my car.

The store lost my business yesterday.

Anyway, this isn’t about whether or not your establishment has a mask policy.

It’s about the subtle messages you send to your customers or clients that may push them away from you when you should be doing just the opposite.

It’s about lightening up a bit, and going out of your way to brighten their day, especially now when everyone seems to be on edge.

They say people make up their minds about you within 4 seconds of meeting you. Given my experience yesterday, I’d say that’s about right.

When you’re ready for your practice to take a quantum leap

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The best marketing you can do right now

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Phones quiet? Not a lot of work coming in? Courts closed?

Now would be a good time to do some marketing.

But what?

The same kind of marketing I nag you about all the time, only now you have time to do it on a bigger scale.

It’s one of the simplest and most effective kind of marketing a lawyer can do.

Get on the blower and blow.

Call your clients (and former clients) to say hello, wish them well, and ask if there’s anything you can do for them.

Works well during good times. Should work like gangbusters now when people are concerned about the future and not too busy to take your call.

Don’t expect to get any work when you call, but don’t be surprised if it does.

Right now, you may learn what your clients want to know so you can get the answers for them and share those answers with your other clients and in your newsletter.

If someone need help with something you don’t do, you can refer them to someone who does, earning Brownie points with the client and the professional or business owner to whom you refer them.

Mostly, you’ll strengthen your relationship with the people who once put bread on your table and who will again.

They’ll appreciate you and remember that you thought about them, and while others wrote to them and wished them well, you were the one who made a personal call.

Mark my words, when things get back to normal and they need legal help or know someone who does, they’ll be calling you.

So, how many clients will you call this week?

How to use a newsletter to build your practice

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Converting clients to advocates

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You want your clients to send you referrals, promote your events, share your content, provide positive reviews, and otherwise help you expand your reach and grow your practice.

You deliver good results and treat your clients with respect, and because you do, some of your clients will advocate on your behalf simply because they like you and want to help you and the people they know.

If you want more clients to do that, however, and do it more often, make it easier for them to do it.

One thing you can do is provide them with tools (hash tags, review templates, sample language for social media posts, emails they can forward to friends, etc.) so they can share their experiences with you.

Another thing you can do is make it easier for them to recognize your ideal client by providing them with a description.

Teach them what a good referral looks like, what they should tell them about you, and the best way to make the referral.

The more you inform and equip your clients to advocate for you, the more likely it is that they will do that.

How to equip your clients to send you more referrals

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Choosing the right clients

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When I was ten years old I went to summer camp for two weeks. Sleeping in cabins, swimming and fishing in the lake, archery practice, softball, campfire songs.

I loved every minute of it.

Our counselor was cool. He didn’t talk down to us or boss us around. He was like an older brother and we could talk to him about anything.

I had so much fun I went back the next year.

But the second year was different.

Same woods and lake, same games and activities, different counselor. And I didn’t get along with him at all.

The details aren’t important. What’s important is that as much as I loved my first year at camp, that’s how much I hated my second year.

Because of the counselor.

The people in our lives make a difference.

If you know people you don’t like, don’t associate with them. Spend time with people who make you feel good.

That includes your clients.

Spend time with clients who appreciate you and support you. Clients you like to be around.

Those clients tend to know people like themselves and can refer them to you. You’ll probably like them, too.

You can’t choose your camp counselor but you can choose your clients. And you should.

How to get more referrals from your clients

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Sorry, I hired another lawyer

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I’m sorry. I hired another lawyer. You probably want to know why.

It wasn’t because of your services. You’re a good lawyer and I had no complaints about the work you did for me.

It wasn’t poor “customer service”. You always kept me informed about my case, answered my questions, and made me feel appreciated.

It wasn’t fees. I thought your fees were reasonable and I had no issues with your billing practices.

It wasn’t personal. I liked you and got along fine with your staff.

So, why did I hire another lawyer?

Because I had a different legal matter and didn’t realize you could help me with it. You didn’t tell me about your other practice areas, or if you did, it was a long time ago and I forgot.

I asked a friend if he knew any attorneys who practiced in this area and got a referral.

Why didn’t I call you to find out if you could help me or ask you for a referral?

Honestly, it never occurred to me.

I haven’t heard from you since you finished my case a couple of years ago and you know what they say, “out of sight, out of mind”.

I wish you had told me about the other matters you handled. I wish you had stayed in touch. I’ve referred several clients to my new lawyer but I would have sent them to you.

An email newsletter is an easy way to stay in touch with clients and prospects

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Why clients choose you

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You ask your clients, “How did you hear about me?” Good. That’s important to know because it lets you do more of what’s working and less of what’s not.

Another helpful question to ask is, “Why did you choose me/our firm as your attorney?”

The odds are you were hired because of one or more of these reasons:

  1. They know you. They’ve hired you before or know you (or one of your employees) personally. Or, they follow you on social media, came to your seminar, or subscribe to your newsletter.
  2. They were referred to you. They know one of your clients, a professional or business contact, or someone else who recommended you.
  3. You offer something other lawyers don’t offer–better results, different services, house calls, etc.
  4. They chose you randomly. They saw your ad or found your website and saw that you do the kind of work they need, or your office is close to their house or on their way to work.

You can’t do much about the third and fourth reasons on this list. Where you can shine is with the first two. Which are about. . .

Your reputation.

You want clients and contacts to know, or be told by others who know you, that you are good at your job, but more importantly, that you are passionate about what you do.

You love your work, you love helping your clients, and it shows.

You give your clients extra time and attention. You make the evening call to see how they’re holding up after they get bad news. You go out of your way to help them with advice and recommendations and information that go beyond your legal services.

You show your clients you really do care about them.

Ultimately, most clients, certainly the best clients, choose you because of YOU.

Client relations is everything

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Once is not enough

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Marketing legend Dan Kennedy who passed away recently once noted something he learned from consulting clients in the dry cleaning industry. He said that if you get a new customer to return to your store three times in a relatively short period of time, they’re likely to be your customer for life.

The banking, insurance and investment industries also know that getting a customer to open three accounts or buy three of their products makes it much more likely the customer will stick with their company.

I can’t imagine why this wouldn’t also be true for lawyers and firms.

Get your clients to hire you for three different matters or cases, and the odds are they will keep you as their lawyer for life.

Assuming you don’t give them a reason not to, of course.

Does this fall into the category of interesting information or can you do something with this little gem?

No doubt you do whatever you can to get first-time clients to return and “buy” your other services, and you don’t stop with three.

But perhaps now, knowing the magic of the number three, you’ll work a little harder to get a first time client to hire you again, and a client who has hired you twice to hire you a third time.

Maybe you’ll work a little harder to get them to do that sooner, rather than later.

Maybe you’ll offer your clients an incentive to do that.

Invest a little at the beginning of your relationship to create a lifetime of client loyalty.

Yes but, what do you do if most of your clients only need your service one time and you don’t have any other services to offer?

You might break down your service into smaller parts. Get them to hire you for part one and then offer them parts two and three.

You might promote to them the services of another lawyer you recommend and stay involved during the engagement (ie., go to the first meeting, get cc’d on progress reports, etc.)

You might get clients to engage with you in other ways such as attending a seminar in your conference room or online. They might not need to hire you again but attending your seminar does fill in the gap between first time/one-time client and lifetime client (and source of referrals).

Get your clients to hire you again, sure, but if you can’t do that, get them involved with you in some way after the first engagement.

Good client relations leads to referrals

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Small and frequent

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If you play online games, you know the developers of those games tend to reward you with tokens and banners and prizes of some sort. They give you small rewards frequently, rather than a big reward less often.

And you like it that way.

Each time you get something–a prize or acknowledgment of your progress–you get a small hit of dopamine. It feels good. The more often that hit is triggered, the more likely you are to continue to play that game.

You like getting to the next level in the game. You like the anticipation and the sense of accomplishment. You keep playing because there is always a next level.

But you also like it when the app gives you something unexpected.

If you don’t play online games, you may find other ways to get small and frequent reinforcement in your life. Checking off done tasks on your todo list, for example.

Knowing this, you might want to do something similar with your clients and prospects.

That is, give them reasons to feel good about you and what you’re doing for them more often.

What could you do between the start of the case or engagement and the time you settle or present the deliverables?

What could send them? How could you engage them? How could you recognize or reward them?

Each time you call your clients or send them something, assuming you’re not delivering bad news, they get a hit of dopamine. In part, because you didn’t deliver bad news, but also because your communication reminds them that they made a good decision when they chose you as their attorney.

Put on your thinking cap and brainstorm ways to touch the lives of your clients more often. Do the same thing for your prospective clients and business contacts.

A good place to start is with information. Instead of sending “everything” all at once, break it up into smaller pieces and send them more often.

Don’t make clients wait until the end of the case to hear from you. Don’t make prospective clients wait weeks or months to hear from you.

Contact your clients and prospects more often. You’ll probably find them getting hooked on you.

A simple way to connect is with an email newsletter

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Will you do me a favor?

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If you’re like most people, when you heard me ask for a favor you probably thought, “It depends on what it is”.

If I ask you to do something that’s

  • easy to do
  • doesn’t require a lot of time or money
  • doesn’t take you outside your comfort zone/embarrass you

. . .you would at least consider it, wouldn’t you?

If I ask you to take a survey and tell me which book title you prefer, for example, and all you have to do is click button A or button B, you’ll probably do it.

Because you like being asked for your opinion and because you want to help me. So. . . why not?

Well, your clients are no different and if you ask them for an easy favor like that, many of them will come through.

Ask them to Like your video or blog post and most will give you a thumbs up.

Ask them to forward your video or blog post to a friend, however, and you won’t get as many to do that but you’ll get some.

And “some” is good. Some are better than none.

Now, if you ask for a testimonial or a referral, you may get only a few to do it, but you would be happy with “a few” wouldn’t you?

So, take my challenge: ask your clients for a favor.

Start with something simple. Easy for you to ask, easy for them to do.

Later, as you build your “asking” muscle, you can ask for something better.

Start by asking the next client you speak with, either in person or on the phone, to do something for you.

Want a suggestion? Okay, how about asking them for the name of a real estate or insurance broker they know?

Easy to ask, easy for them to reply.

Later, once you’re comfortable asking for a name, you can start asking for an introduction.

Now, will you do me a favor? Will you forward this email to an attorney who might like to read this?

You don’t have to introduce us, just forward the email. I appreciate it and they will, too.

Easy for me to ask, easy for you to do.

Marketing is easier with email

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