In last month’s Solicitors Journal, I read an interesting article with the above title, written by Jess Saumarez, a commercial officer at a law firm and described as ‘a digital marketing expert’.
In the opening paragraph she suggested that according to the Harvard Business Review, it can be 25 times more expensive to onboard, (love these Americanisms!) a new client than it is to retain a new one. More surprising (or not) is the same review contends that just a 5% increase in retention can lead to a huge 95% increase in profitability.
The other encouraging suggestion is kind of obvious but so rewarding – clients that stick around tend to do so because they are happy with the service they are receiving, which in turn makes them more likely to recommend your firm to others. More referrals = Great news, right?
Of course, the business of law is not necessarily like other service businesses and can be transactional by nature, or certainly has been in the past. I hope and believe this is changing and there is a recognition that waiting for a new customer with a new legal need or transaction is not a viable model in the post-Legal Services Act world.
Ms. Saumarez no doubt recognises the peculiarities of legal services and the proposed 5 top tips by which you might enhance client retention. All 5 are valid in my opinion but I wanted to consider them from a SIFA Professional perspective.
Top 5 Tips:
Listen to your clients
I couldn’t agree more that requesting regular feedback from your customers or clients is important. The article is strong on Net Promoter Scoring (NPS), but simple feedback questionnaires will suffice of course. If a client is positive about their experience, then do you actually need to ask how likely they are to recommend you? Perhaps more relevant is how you respond to negative feedback or constructive criticism. Either way, do not be frightened to ask for feedback. Using your CRM or Case Management software makes this easier to undertake, record and respond to.
Market to current clients
Given the theme of this blog, it should be obvious that more effort, than has traditionally been the case, should be spent marketing to existing clients than in trying to find new ones. Solicitors have perhaps thought marketing a dirty word, or a bit salesy in the past. Dare I say something a financial adviser might do and not a lawyer?
The truth is that marketing new services based on thorough knowledge of a client’s finances, circumstances and aspirations is indeed something financial advisory firms have done exceptionally well, and it has transformed the financial planning profession into just that. Maybe speak to the financial planning partners you have selected about communicating with clients via newsletters and targeted campaigns using their CRM. They may even be able to assist with relevant or complementary material.
Consider the onboarding process
New customers who enjoy the initial experience of dealing with your firm are more likely to stay as clients. Give serious thought to how easy and enjoyable it is for an individual to become a client, whether it be via a chatbot on your website initially, or an online fact find, to the first face-to-face experience, and even to the welcoming atmosphere, coffee etc. in your offices.
First impressions are all important, and these days that often starts with a consumer researching online for your website, so its interactivity and the clear information it holds on your services and people are vital. In my opinion, making it clear upfront that your firm works with very carefully selected partners, such as financial planners or accountants, or indeed will work hand in hand with their existing advisers, is also very worthwhile. Create that ‘trusted advisor’ impression from day one.
Client communication calendar
Having one of these is crucial and it is why the maximised use of your CRM is essential. Not only will it enable your firm to proactively schedule regular reviews where appropriate, and even wish clients the best on birthdays and anniversaries, but it will also highlight where there has been little interaction so you can rectify that.
On the financial planning side, we have mastered the use of CRM for this. It may seem less obvious in the legal world but certainly offering Will reviews annually and Trustee meetings seems a perfect proactive use of a calendar. Where you are working with a financial planning partner, they will be regularly reviewing the mutual client’s portfolio and will look to involve you, we are certain.
Every firm is different
This final headline tip whilst vague is no less valid. Your firm may already be on a journey and may have begun improving the initial website research experience or increased the proactive communication via your CRM. The key point to remember is that the tools and tips are just that, because each individual new customer or existing client will be different with their own needs and quirks. However, the tools and technology, whilst allowing your firm to embrace the tips and improve how you onboard and communicate with your clients will simultaneously allow you to ensure their experience is personal and relevant to them.
I hope you enjoyed this take on the Solicitors Journal article, and I truly would advocate talking to your financial advisory colleagues, as they are arguably further down the road with the use of CRM, to improve and strengthen existing client relationships.
You can find your local SIFA Professional colleague here.
David Seager | Consulting Adviser to SIFA Professional
Read Jess Saumarez’s article – in the Solicitors Journal – here
Read more articles from Modern Law Magazine here