If you are like most lawyers – and truthfully most business owners – you spend a lot of time and pay a lot of money developing ways to get people to notice you, call you, and come see what you have to offer. But getting noticed is really only half the battle. You can do consultations all day long, but if you aren’t retaining a high number of those who walk through your doors you won’t make much progress.
If the new potential clients aren’t retaining you in high percentages there are really only two options: shut your doors or develop a strategy to get a higher volume of people in your office to improve the overall number of clients that are retaining you. Neither of which are very attractive options.
The better route is to evaluate why it is people are not retaining you in higher numbers and then implement a strategy to make more of the people you meet with your clients.
Here’s why – the initial consultation is a terrible time to really get to know your client and for them to get to know and trust you. While we do consultations all day long, in many cases your initial meeting is the first time your client has ever met with an attorney. They are likely nervous about the meeting itself and stressed out by whatever legal problem they have.
Have you ever had your client ask questions later on that you know you covered in detail in the initial consult? The initial consultation is vital to the retention of a new client, however the atmosphere in that meeting is not conducive to building those relationships of trust needed for a client to hire you.
Blogging and podcasting solve this problem by allowing your client to get to know you before they ever step foot in your office. If you are doing it right, blogging and podcasting demonstrate not only your expertise and knowledge, but that you are a human being and are there to help them solve their legal problem. Here are three things that are vital to establishing that relationship with people before they have even met you:
Tell Stories/Share Experiences
There are two types of stories that are helpful to tell in your writing and in your podcast. First, share stories about yourself. You don’t need to get too personal here, but inserting a quick experience or drawing on items from your personal life help to paint you as a real person and frankly make you more likeable.
Second, share experiences about similar type legal matters you have handled. Of course you don’t go into the type of detail that could violate confidences, but tell your reader in general terms about cases you have handled for people just like them and how it all ended up.
Tell stories. People like stories.
Express empathy for your client in your writing. In most areas of the law our clients are going through one of the most stressful, difficult times of their lives. Divorce, bankruptcy, lawsuits. All of these things are making life miserable. Let your client know that you “feel their pain”.
I start off my bankruptcy site this way: “Bankruptcy. Many people I meet with have a hard time even uttering the word bankruptcy. No one wants to file for bankruptcy.”
You know how I know this? Because day in and day out clients tell me this. When they come into my office and meet with me about filing for bankruptcy I can see that some literally have difficulty saying the word. They don’t want to be there – they have to be there because they have run out of options. As a blogger and podcaster it is your job to take those observations that you get every day from working with people and use them to help you communicate that you know what they are going through and you are there to help.
Which leads to my next tip…be an advocate.
Be An Advocate
Before you ever meet with your client they should know at a minimum, one thing; You are on their side. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, what it might be, what they did or didn’t do, you are there to help and advocate for them.
I once wrote an article for a blog entitled “How to Be a Dirtbag – Debt Buyer Style”. Clearly, this was not an article in favor of the debt buying industry. Take a side. Take your client’s side. Let them know from day one that you are there to represent them and their interests.
This type of writing is different than what most lawyers are used to and it will take some time and practice to really start incorporating it into your blog. But as you do, as you open up, you will find, as I have, that clients will openly tell you that the reason why they chose you from all the attorneys out there, was because of the connection you made through the words on your blog or your voice on your podcast.
What have you found effective in increasing client retention rates in your practice?