Managing Partners: Capitalize on your firm’s opportunity to enhance your outreach program to clients.*
The extremely fragile state of mind of your clients makes this essential for three reasons:
- It’s the right thing to do. You will help them.
- The unique opportunity is NOW, when client needs are intense.
- Your firm’s relationships with your clients will be forever enhanced.
My Research / Hands-On Experience
In my research with individual attorneys and client firms I have learned that:
- Many attorneys have been reaching out to at least some clients.
- Some have done an effective job of showing care and concern.
- Others have been a bit mechanical and missed the opportunity to show caring.
- Those participating in the outreach can learn a lot from each other by sharing experiences.
Questions to Ask Your Attorneys
(test your attorneys’ client-awareness)
How are your clients doing right now?
What are their situations?
- Living alone or with a significant other?
- Do they have at-risk friends or relatives?
- Is any family member or friend sick?
What are they doing to stay sane professionally or personally?
- Virtual Happy Hours?
- Virtual lunches?
- Virtual coffee?
How are they coping with working from home (WFH)?
- Regular work hours/routine?
- Sleep – OK, or not so much?
- Stress – how bad is it and what are they doing to reduce it?
Note: Attorneys who cannot answer these questions are not really in touch with their clients right now.
Ask, “What benefits would accrue to you or your practice group by showing you care about your clients?” (In a facilitated discussion, record these benefits.)
How Do You Do the Outreach?
Have each attorney list some client contacts and referral sources, active or otherwise.
Ask your attorneys to invite several clients a day to communicate.
- Attorneys should suggest video.
- They should explain why they’d like to use video.
- Feedback from others suggests most people prefer video.
- As a precaution, they should allow clients a choice (phone).
Attorneys should be trained to ask open-ended, big-picture questions, like
- How are you doing? (Make it clear that you really want to know.)
- Are there any surprises – things you did not expect WFH?
- What’s the hardest part about WFH?
- What’s the best part of WFH?
- Do you need anything? How can I help?
Encourage your attorneys to:
- Probe (dig deeper): “What’s that like?”
- Avoid leading questions, like “It’s not so bad, right?”
- Use empathy in your answers: “That must be pretty difficult.”
Do Not Sell
The outreach is about showing care, concern and empathy. If you are perceived to be looking for more work you will have reduced your credibility to ZERO.
Tracking the Outreach
- Ask attorneys to list those to whom they have reached out.
- Ask attorneys tell you about how each client reacted.
- Publicize the anecdotes in your team meetings.
- Give the attorneys who do this well some recognition. Ask them to detail in a team meeting.
Your outreach is a condition precedent to maintaining or enhancing client relationships.
The door to this opportunity is wide open – walk through it.
Do a good job, not a perfect job. (Don’t be the perfectionist who missed the opportunity.)
MAY I HELP YOU? If you would like to have an informal discussion about this topic, please let me know and I’ll set up a video meeting with you (no fee).
I INVITE YOUR FEEDBACK: I would be interested to know your thoughts on your outreach to clients or any other matter relating to law firms and their management – during crises or at any other time. Reach me via email.
* This article originally appeared in Edge International Communique (EIC). Each month, EIC publishes items of interest to lawyers around the world on various aspects of law-firm strategy, marketing, technology, management, economics, human relations and a host of other topics. In addition to the most recent edition, the EIC site includes a sign-up page for those who are interested in subscribing to EIC, as well as a list of archived articles.