What is Client Retention and is it Important for Attorneys?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Client retention is the idea of returning customers; if your clients are satisfied enough to return to you with future cases or to send future referrals your way, these are indications of good client retention. However, if you never work with the same client twice and rarely receive a referral, this could be a sign that your client retention strategy needs some work. While some areas of law are more likely than others to see retention of specific clients (i.e. hopefully clients of personal injury law firms do not suffer more than one catastrophic injury in their life), past clients can always refer others in need of legal representation to your firm, which is still client retention in another sense.
Client retention strategies might not be as straightforward in the legal industry as it is in others, but there are a few key tips to keep in mind which could make retaining past clients and obtaining new clients by referral that much easier.
Client retention strategies begin long before you are done with a client’s case.
It’s important to note that client retention begins the moment a potential client contacts you for the first time. From the very first impression, it’s important to communicate your dedication to helping your clients with their problems. Throughout the litigation process, it’s important to continue building on this impression by conducting yourself with professionalism, efficiency, and a general kindness for your client, who is likely undergoing personal stress in relation to their case.
When you have finished handling the case, a consistently positive impression increases the chance that the client will return with future work for you, or will send work from others in need your way. However, client retention strategies should not end when the case concludes.
Continue to be available to your clients, even after litigation for a particular case has ended.
It’s important to make an effort to stay at the forefront of your past clients’ memories; this is similar to a concept referred to as “top of mind awareness”. Top of mind awareness for a brand means it’s the first brand that comes to mind when someone thinks of a product. Think of Kleenex or Saran Wrap. Contributing to top of mind awareness increases the chances that clients will think of you when they are in need of legal help, or refer others to you when they come across someone who could benefit from the help of a lawyer.
It’s important to encourage clients to return to you with any future questions, even if it’s about a case that has been resolved. While a particular case may come and go relatively quickly in the course of an attorney’s practice, the effects of that case may be long-term or even permanent for the client to whom it belongs. With this in mind, it’s highly probable that a client will have future questions about their case; for optimum client retention, it’s important to communicate to clients that you are genuinely happy to answer any questions related to the case should they arise later.
Here are some tips for increasing client retention and referrals:
- Be responsive. Respond to client questions as quickly as possible; aim for responding to any inquiries in well under 24 hours, even if your reply is simply that you need more time to give their question the attention it deserves and will respond as soon as possible. This rule applies to questions from current, past, and potential future clients. Lack of consistent and clear communication from their legal representative is one of the biggest complaints clients have and can have a significantly negative impact on client retention.
- Be predictive. It’s far more likely that an attorney will know what questions a client should be asking than the client themself. Show off both your legal expertise and your empathy by answering these questions before the client ever thinks of them. This is a good way to communicate your personal dedication to their case, as well as care for their comfort. It’s important to predict what type of uncertainties a client may be feeling at any point in the litigation process and take the initiative to address it address them in a timely, kind, and communicative manner.
- Be effective. This direction is true for any business relying on client retention and/or referrals; do your job well. This means giving your best effort to every case, even those that may seem relatively minor. It’s important for your client to see that the care they are receiving from your firm is of a high-quality and equal to the attention and effort any other case on your roster receives.
- Maintain an active outreach strategy. Marketing should never stop; it’s important for law firms and attorneys to maintain active strategies targeted to their ideal demographic of both past and potential future clients. Include past clients in your outreach efforts; this is a good way to stay active in their memory and increase the chance of referrals.
- Keep up with past clients. The client-attorney relationship ideally should not end when litigation does. Check in on a personal yet professional level with past clients; let them know you are available to answer any questions they may have or to help with any future needs. If the client was struggling with an area of concern related to the case the last time you spoke, ask about it in specific and compassionate terms. This is one of the best ways to garner a reputation as an attorney who genuinely cares about the success and wellbeing of their clients by putting their needs first.
For more tips on client retention for attorneys and law firms, reach out to a legal marketing expert.