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July 21, 2008

How To Create a Total Client Experience...Which Will Generate More Business

If you've been reading my blog for a while you know that I do not differentiate legal services (the marketing, the business, the way to treat clients) from selling products.  If you are to run a successful solo practice (or any size law firm) you can't.  It is a business and must be run based upon sound business principles.

One of the most important successful business principles is the 'total client experience'.  How the client experiences your services from marketing through to resolution of his legal matter is the single most powerful differentiation you can create between you and every other lawyer.  And it is what will encourage the satisfied client to return AND to refer business over and over, again.

In the blockbuster book, Tuned In, the authors describe how to create 'breakthrough experiences.' ( I will  paraphrase and gear it towards the client/attorney interaction.)

Breakthrough experiences incorporate each experience - from;

  • the first interaction (marketing);
  • evaluation (initial consultation);
  • purchase (signed retainer agreement);
  • product use (legal services to resolve their problem);
  • after-sale service (client follow-up).

The Discovery Experience:

Potential clients need information in order to make a rational and informed decision about how to solve their problems.  Law firms which understand this create a marketing program that potential clients actually want  to consume.  The law firm which doesn't understand this will simply generate hype and spin in an expensive and misguided effort to manipulate their ideal client.  They will 'scream' at them through their marketing rather than drawing them in in a non-threatening manner with tools to help them solve their problems.

The Buying Experience:

The law firm who is more interested in making things easier for themselves rather than creating a process which is easier on the client does not get it.  Clients want to feel important and they want their needs to be met throughout the entire time they are being represented.  It doesn't matter the size of the retainer or contingency fee or if they are pro bono.  Making the experience as simple and as easy as possible where the client feels respected and engaged will lead to more referrals.

The Packaging Experience:

They say position is everything in life?  Well, presentation is everything in business.  How you package your services will influence the value the client places on them (and your bottom line) and is part of the entire buying experience.

The Using Experience:

Breakthrough experiences are by definition simple to understand and easy to implement.  They are intuitive and natural and help people to engage with the service. They don't have to be major in expense or scope, just major in impact on the client.

The Service Experience:

Many lawyers need to come up with some form of post-retention client care.  Those who don't get it will either hire someone to handle it or, more often, simply not do anything once the legal matter is resolved.  But law firms who understand the value of client care know that happy (and unhappy) clients will talk with family, friends, blog, post in forums and quite possibly retain your services in the future.

  • What is your clients' experience when they are retained by you?
  • Are you more focused on your own internal comforts or the requirements of your client?
  • Can you identify areas that could use attention?
  • Is what you promise in your marketing message what the client actually receives?
  • Do you have a program for post-retention client care?

I know this is a lot to throw at you. But it's time to really take a good hard look at what you are delivering to your client and how you can improve upon it.

And, solos, this isn't about throwing money you don't have at the 'problem'.  It's not about money.  It is about understanding the concepts and then creating a marketing message which helps fashion your relationships with your clients going forward so they have a positive and memorable experience.

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Comments

Laurie/Halo Secretarial

Great post! I definitely think that treating a law firm as a business is important. Traditional law firms so often act like they are honoring the client by representing them, instead of recognizing that the client usually has a choice (or many choices!) in who they want to represent them.

Sandy Slaga

I certainly look for the "total client experience" in services that I seek out. Why wouldn't we, as lawyers, expect our clients to do the same? Thanks for the reminder, Susan!

Solomon Neuhardt

I have found the idea of someone wanting to consume legal services difficult. I really would like to see more feedback regarding this. People want to buy a new car, nice clothes, or most consumer good, but legal services are usually needed, usually by pressure of some sort, rather than wanted. Again if someone can advise me on how to create the "want" for services that would be outstanding.

Margaret

Mr. Neuhardt, I agree. Depending on the kind of law we practice, we may find ourselves right up there with oncologists as professionals our clients never want to hire. I have found that word of mouth works well here. A friend or client meets someone with a problem, and refers them to you becasue they NEED a lawyer, and you are the one they trust.

Alexis Martin Neely

Great post, Susan. The key in creating these client experiences and ensuring they happen again and again is having the office systems in place to allow this to happen in your business with as little ongoing input or recreating the wheel as possible. Otherwise, you will drown!

There are 6 systems integral to every law business system. Client Attraction, Client Engagement, Client Service, Client Retention, Managing by the Numbers and Accountable Team.

Your out-facing client systems are what will create the want.

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