Management Matters: Remember me
Vol. 77, No. 3 / May - June 2021
It’s important to stay in contact with your clients when your representation of them wraps up.
Danielle DavisRoe is a graduate of The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She practiced law at a boutique firm in central Ohio prior to coming to Affinity Consulting. As a consultant, she focuses on training and helping legal professionals work more efficiently.
Assuming you ended on a good note, keeping in touch with clients can drive in new business.
When you are on your client’s mind, your client is more likely to come to you for additional legal services and recommend you to others. If you are not already keeping in touch after representation is over, there is no time like the present to start, particularly if you are facing a lull in business, providing time to focus on long-term, business-beneficial tasks.
There are a multitude of ways to stay in touch, from simple emails to sophisticated marketing campaigns. Dropping someone an email or picking up the phone is a great way to get a conversation going, but it will be hard to track the effectiveness of your outreach without another tool in place. You want to be able to track the clients you contact, whether they engage with your outreach, and whether you gain new business from it. From time to time, you need to reevaluate your approach to see what is and is not working.
Ways to Reach Out
Beyond the simple email or phone call, you can touch base through digital cards, newsletters, handwritten notes, and gifts. While not inundating your clients with contact, it is more effective to use multiple forms of outreach. Remember that different clients prefer different methods. Some may love a Facebook message or Twitter DM but loathe the thought of another email in their inboxes. If you effectively track engagement, you can better tailor your outreach to each client.
Keeping it Electronic
While electronic outreach is infinitely measurable, the days of excitement because “you’ve got mail” are long dead. Most people are overwhelmed by email, and it is easy to ignore or lose your outreach. With the prevalence of phishing and email scams, even if your email does not get lost in the shuffle, it may be left untouched.
Despite all of this, many firms send out e-cards at the holidays. E-cards range from generic “happy holidays” messages to professionally produced videos.
Regularly published newsletters can keep your clients updated on both legal and firm news. They are especially useful for changes to the law, such as the SECURE Act, that require your clients to seek additional legal assistance. Set a publication schedule for as frequently as you expect to have useful information to share — that may mean a less-frequent publication schedule than some newsletters you regularly receive.
Going Old School
Handwritten thank you cards are hard to come by these days. The cost of sending a card is minimal and is significantly more likely to get noticed and remembered by the recipient. Whether a client refers you to a friend or someone goes out of his or her way to make your job easier, consider getting out your pen and stationery. Not only will your recipient appreciate it, but you may feel more grateful yourself.
Physical gifts, often edible treats, are also less common than they used to be. Most often, they are sent around the holidays. For significant clients and referral sources, consider sending gifts that their entire office or family can enjoy. Recipients may eagerly anticipate the arrival of a favorite snack every year. To avoid the year-end rush, consider sending gifts for birthdays or business/personal anniversaries; your present will seem more thoughtful.
When sending handwritten cards or gifts, track what you sent, when you sent it, and to whom you sent it. If you receive a response, track that as well. You may not be able to track whether the recipient opened the card or ate the gift, but what you do glean can be remarkably helpful.
Tracking Your Outreach
Practice Management Software
Start with the software you already own. Your practice management or contact management system may already have tools in place to help. If that’s the case, investigate what it offers before spending money.
Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet
If you do not have a practice management or case management software, something as simple as a spreadsheet will also allow you to track your efforts and the payoff manually. This is child’s play for any modern spreadsheet program, from Google Sheets to Apple’s Numbers to Microsoft Excel. Add a row for each client and include pertinent contact information. Storing each piece of contact information (first name, last name, email address, street address, etc.) in its own column will allow you to quickly mail merge the data into documents and emails. Then, create additional columns to track your outreach and its effectiveness. For advanced spreadsheet users, pivot tables and charts can help analyze your data.
Customer Relationship Management Software
If you find yourself quickly outgrowing your home-grown tracking spreadsheet, you may need to invest in customer relationship management software (“CRM”), such as HubSpot or Constant Contact. A CRM allows you to track your relationship with each client in detail and embark on email campaigns, where you can automatically send emails to clients and track whether recipients open the emails and click on links within the messages.