Tanner Jones 2013-12-05 00:06:26
Kill Your Competitor With Kindness … Toward Your Clients Recently in Harvard Business Review, Jim Farley, VP of Global Marketing & Sales for Ford Motors, pointed out: “Technology has changed the process of customer education… just consider how much a shopper can learn about a product (or brand) on their own, before they even speak to a salesperson. They can find information about a business on the internet, examine products via video, and even read candid reviews about previous buyers’ likes and dislikes.” These changes affect your law firm. Competitive Advantage Through Law Firm Customer Service As the debate on the cost of legal services rages, it is critical to consider implementing non-fee-based factors that will give you a competitive advantage over other firms. One of the most important aspects of your firm’s relationship with the public is how well you provide your services. Do you make your client feel like the most important person in your office? Are their questions treated with respect and responded to quickly? In 2010, nine in 10 American consumers said they were willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service (StellaService Report). Are you taking steps to be one of those companies? The customer service process begins when a client first hears about your firm. In this word-of-mouth marketing and referral economy, your reputation precedes you; make sure it’s a good one. Your marketing message is also paramount. Often, prospects go online to research your law firm even if they hear about your firm from another source. Is your website designed with the user in mind, or is it more like an online trophy room? Your site should serve visitors so well that they understand you to be the experts in their area of need. Using Q&A, blog posts and social media will help your prospects understand your firm and ease their concerns before they even call you. Above all, design your site to convert well because law firm customer service begins online. The First Personal Touch: Intake Professionals Your marketing only works when the person answering your phones reflects the personality that your marketing messages convey. If your website emphasizes your firm’s caring and personable staff, having a harsh or distracted person answer the phones will turn prospects off immediately. Coach your intake staff to emanate your firm’s personality as a whole. Don’t Just Give Them Lip Service Unless you are a virtual office law firm, a client’s next step is to actually visit your office in person. The next time you walk into work, try to come in with a fresh perspective. Is the front lawn of your office well cared for? Is coffee or tea available for your visitors and do you have comfortable seating for their wait? Has the sun faded your wall art, or do you take care in your interior decorating? Having defined and written client greeting procedures will help insure that your clients receive consistent, high quality experiences with your firm. These might seem like trivial questions, but every aspect of the client’s experience matters. Maintaining a welcoming office environment and making clients feel important is critical. A well-lit, open and airy greeting room with fresh flowers and current magazines (as opposed to last year’s magazines) make for a positive first impression. Go a step further, offer personalized service by greeting them warmly by name, when appropriate; knowing their specific preferences regarding what they expect from you and your staff; offering them refreshments (their favorite if you know it) and keeping them informed about their appointment status when the lawyer or staff members are not readily available. Offer wireless guest connectivity. Make sure your office or the office you take them to is void of clutter. Clutter and stacks of papers make a client wonder if their case will be well managed. Send visitors a follow-up thank you note and self-addressed survey that asks about their experience with your firm. The Fortune is in the Follow-Up Just because your client received their settlement, do not consider the process of customer service being completed! Sending a handwritten thank you card or a small gift as a gesture of thanks will keep you top of mind if they should ever need legal services again. Several firms have benefited from referral programs for those that want to share their good experience with others needing a lawyer. Customer service is the perfect complement to professionalism. By maintaining high standards of service and implementing the practices introduced in this article, your firm will come out ahead of your competitors in the best way of all: kindness. Tanner Jones serves as the marketing director for Consultwebs.com, the premier provider of innovative online legal marketing to ethical U.S. law firms seeking growth and profit. They foster professional, long-term relationships built on trust, integrity, quality and results. Often the first contact their clients have with the firm, Tanner helps law firms develop their online marketing strategies, including search engine optimization, responsive website design, and pay-per-click advertising. Tanner has spoken and presented at multiple legal marketing seminars throughout the country. Contact Tanner for a free evaluation of your online presence at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 872-6590.
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