The experience you receive at a clothing retailer or spa is not something you’d think to compare to the experience in a law practice.
I’m not implying you should imitate their practices, but there are a few characteristics present in those environments that can be translated into your practice with goal of turning more of your first time guests into first time clients.
Being in an attorney”s office for the first time can be one of the most unfamiliar or uncomfortable experiences in a persons life.
Depending on the surrounding circumstances they could be going through a very difficult personal situation and operating at a heightened sense of sensitivity. The efforts you make to ensure they feel a sense of comfort working with you can go a long way.
First and foremost, make sure that the initial interaction that takes place between your office and the potential client is a positive one. When and where does it happen?
An inbound call into the office in the morning should be upbeat and cheerful. Using a lighter tone, and salutations like “Good Morning” or “Thank you for calling.”
The person answering the phone should not make the potential client on the other end feel like their call is a burden, or that they are being rushed through questions quickly.
Most of all, no barking. We are have stressful positions, lives and lots of distractions but being short, or quick with someone who is calling so they can potentially help pay you, is counterproductive.
The same is true for in office appointments. The reception or waiting area of your office should be a calm and inviting place. Free of tension and welcoming to new faces.
There should be someone to kindly greet them, or if unattended clear directions on what to do when they arrive.
If you require information to be completed, have forms, pens and a clipboard ready. Don’t scramble to prepare items you know you’ll need in advance.
Separately, the front office should be treated as a respected area, discussions regarding clients, cases and office issues should be conducted in private.
A few inexpensive ways to make your guests comfortable while they wait; Offer something to drink, or if a waiting room is unattended a stocked mini-fridge with waiting instructions.
Candy, mints, or snack size bags of chips go a long way. Spending $20 – $50 is usually more than adequate depending on the size of your office.
Information, information, information. When you go the Doctor or Dentist’s office, you’ll notice the abundance of information. Brochures, TV’s set on CNN Health or specialty content networks. Allowing patients to familiarize themselves with an area before they speak to the doctor.
The same is true for your area of practice.
Maybe you place start-up books in your lobby for small business clients, or information on life after Bankruptcy for clients coming to the firm with debt issues.
Providing this self service education to them will not only help keep their mind on the topic while waiting, but may help them come to you ready with questions and an increased level of comfort about their issue(s.)
Many law libraries, bar associations and independent providers offer Consumer Brochures for free, or available for order. Specialty content also helps build your credibility as an expert when you’re able to easily answer the questions they derived from the materials.
Consumer Brochures, Handbooks and Info Sheets:
- Divorce Pamphlet – State Bar of Georgia
- DUI Info Brochure – The State Bar of Nevada
- Estate Planning Pamphlet Series – The State Bar of California
- Estate Planning Info Brochure – The Colorado Bar Association
- Consumer Pamphlets – State Bar of Texas
- Consumer Information Pamphlets – Washington State Bar Association
- Consumer Pamphlets – The Florida Bar
- Consumer Handbooks and Pamphlets – State Bar of Wisconsin
For firms that are catering to clients seeking representation for high value cases in areas such as Personal Injury, Divorce, Estate Planning, Entertainment Law or Class Action where the competition is practically waiting outside to court your clients. Going the extra mile may be the difference between you and the other firm.
Don’t Overlook Your Online Experience.
Your Website: Does your website reflect the focus of the firm? We recently spoke to Zeller Law, a Business Law Firm in Chicago, whose website is tailored to the eyes of their perfect client. It focuses on the energy of Chicago’s bustling loop, feeds business news on the homepage, and offers an online option for those who just can’t wait to get started. Put yourself in your perfect client’s shoes and identify what would make you excited about working with an attorney. Introduce yourself, and the other members of the team. The visitors of your website are trying to get to know you, withholding information and keeping the conversation dry is not going to make them pick up the phone.
Does your firm provide multiple ways to stay in contact, or online access to files, notes and a calendar with important case milestones? Offering your clients a client portal, or can distinguish your practice from the others in the group. Potential clients seeking representation for a Merger, Acquisition or Intellectual Property case can rest assured communication will be kept private through the use of a secure and encrypted tool built for the delivery of legal services.
Extra Credit: Consumer Question & Answer Sites: Another increasingly popular meeting place are public consumer question & answer sites such as LawQA.com.
Consumers who are searching for the answer to a legal question, which could be related to a potential case may visit these sites and post their question.
The attorneys participating can then reply to the question, creating a track record of thought leadership and expertise about their area of law. Virtually meeting with the consumer, and establishing a conversation give you the opportunity to offer an offline meeting about their situation.
What about your office or initial experience sets your law practice apart? Please share your first time guest successes with us!