A genuine recommendation from a client is the very best word of mouth.
But what about repeat business? Internal word of mouth. When the people in one legal discipline, recommend their clients to their colleagues down the hall – or even on the next desk?
A litigation client for example seeking some employment contract advice?
In a past life, I ran an IT support company, and 23 of our clients were law firms.
I noticed something which to be fair you do also see outside of the world of legal practice. And when I say something, I mean this:
1) Departments don’t always “cross-pollinate”. In other words, making clients fully aware of the full breadth of legal services they offer. At least not in a structured way.
2) From my own experiences as a consumer of legal services, I am yet to experience any communication after the work is complete. Maybe I was just unlucky with my choice?
I’ve used many different lawyers. But rarely twice. For example, I invested a fair sum in a partnership agreement. And once the bill was paid, they never got in touch again.
What about our trading terms and conditions? Did we have any aged debts? Did I have a will (at the time I didn’t)? What about employment contracts?
For the sake of the article, I just checked their website to find out if they do cover those areas, and they do. But if I wasn’t writing this article, I’d be in the dark.
I met many clients and people in business subsequently where partnership agreements were occasionally a topic of conversation. An ideal opportunity you’d think for me to recommend the firm that produced mine?
But I had no affinity with that particular practice and said nothing when the conversation turned to who they should approach.
Nothing they had done inspired my loyalty. Nothing stood out as special about the experience other than the large invoice at the end, and an agreement gathering dust in drawer.
What Causes A Natural Referral?
Unless you do something which makes you stand out, referrals are triggered situationally rather than your customer necessarily being proactive in talking about you without that prompt.
For example, it’s commonplace for a friend to recommend a lawyer they know when they discover that friend needs a good lawyer they know can help them.
Situationally in other words, rather than spontaneously because the experience made an impact.
But that is also dependent on you being top of mind. In other words, they recall that service you may have done for them several years ago. And they know you are still there.
Otherwise you get “I used a firm in the city centre about 6 years ago – what was their name again? If it comes to me, I’ll let you know”. If of course you left them with a good impression and showed you care at least a little at the time.
Creative “word-of-mouth” savvy companies incorporate a nice touch-point with their clients.
For example, when you complete the paperwork on a conveyancing transaction, give your client a gift-wrapped energy-efficient light bulb – something everyone needs when they move into a new home?
A light touch in other words.
It doesn’t cost much, but it makes you stand out. Next time they hear of a friend about to move house – even if it’s many years from now, you’re far more likely to inspire recollection of who you are – and they may even share the story of how you gave them a light bulb.
But you may also inspire proactive “mentions” as they speak to their friends about the light bulb moment without being prompted.
And it’s these small touches which can clinch the deal. It shows you care. Wouldn’t you be drawn to a law firm that cared and treated a friend so well?
But that may not be your style. So how do you stay in touch with clients? Should you rely on busy lawyers, or, as a practice, should you be communicating to all of your clients regularly.
Capture stories from your clients. Follow the processes in the 32-page guide “Grow Your Legal Practice Through Word Of Mouth”.
And make sure you do this for each area of law you practice. That way, you can showcase what you do through the experiences of a real client to your entire audience.
How Important Is Word Of Mouth As Part Of A Purchasing Decision?
Thousands of your words outlining what you do can be beaten from a few sentences from a real client. Especially when you bottle that experience.
Let’s look at the facts. Which form of advertising is trusted most? What influences the purchasing decision more than anything else?
Let’s look at survey specialist Nielsen who ask this question to 30,000 people across 60 countries globally every 2 years:
So How Do Busy Fee-Earners Stay In Touch So You Remain Top Of Mind?
Let’s face it, many areas of law are now commodity services from the perspective of the customer. Prices have been aggressively driven down for many years now.
So you can’t have a fee-earner putting time aside to ring a client who purchased a will a few months ago. Their repeat business potential may not be there, even though their potential to refer is.
Corporate legal work for example is different. It’s often higher value. Much more likely to be repeated. Or, they can buy a variety of services under that banner.
A client who engaged you to draft a partnership agreement may also have overdue invoices for example.
Or the need for contracts of employment. Or could do with their trading terms and conditions reviewed. Or they may be involved in complex joint ventures and need tight agreements in place to protect them.
And they can also recommend you to other businesses.
But will fee-earners realistically be able to find the time to stay in touch?
The clue is in the survey. The second most popular influence on purchases is opinion from people you don’t know.
Produce a company newsletter – but DO NOT just sell your services.
Instead, capture opinions from your clients. Turn their experience into a story. Give the client a boost by including their profile and getting them a little publicity among the other businesses reading your newsletter.
Create a magazine format. Vibrant stories. Use a word of mouth expert (someone like me).
If you’re worried about confidentiality and sensitive matters, it’s all covered in the guide you can download (see below), so your stories reflect well on your client while carefully avoiding the detail of sensitive matters
Let’s use an example. A client interviewed about the impact of outsourcing their collections may produce an article with this headline:
How Phil Boosted His Cashflow To Spark Further Growth
And what about best practice for others reading the same newsletter? An article with the following heading will add that value:
3 Easy To Apply Tips To Improve Your Cashflow
A series of vibrant client interviews, best practice articles, profiles, all linked to full pieces on your website.
And on your website, the client will notice triggering mechanisms – invitations to refer a friend, or, an enquiry form to complete.
Have you been recommended by any client that month? A week before you publish send an email to all lawyers. Ask for examples of new clients that came in that month through a recommendation.
Produce a “thank you” article to that client. Big them up – do a short profile. Link to their website.
In other words, advertise to every client you have how much you appreciate them recommending you. More will want to follow suit.
And this is just part of a process which very gently cross-sells and sparks more referrals without your fee-earners losing valuable time.
It’s means you stay top of mind with clients. It doesn’t annoy them because you are always selling – instead you are giving value and sowing seeds which can germinate into a harvest of repeat business and referrals.
DIY Guide: “Grow Your Legal Practice With Word Of Mouth”…Grab Your Copy
Nothing to pay. Yours to keep and apply to your practice with our compliments.
A 34-page, 6,318 word “Do It Yourself” guide detailing the step-by-step process for growing your legal practice through word of mouth.
No catch. Use it, whether or not you ever ask for our help. Why free? Many use it in-house but don’t contact us. But enough busy legal people seek our help to justify simply giving it away.