Client-First Culture - 4 Tips on Building Client Relationships

What’s your greatest challenge in future-proofing your practice? In a recent survey carried out by Thomson Reuters Solo and Small Law Firm group, almost 80% of respondents ranked acquiring new client business as one of their top challenges.

Given the “buyers’ market” where legal practices now find themselves, it’s vital that your law firm’s focus is set on building client relationships, not only to attract new clients, but to retain existing business, too.

So, how do you build a client-first culture? 4 considerations for building client relationships here:

1. Market Effectively.

It’s not enough to buy some Google or Facebook ad space and hope for the best. Modern marketing is about demonstrating not only your USP, but your UHP, or Unique Human Proposition. It’s about connecting on a human level; building the ‘Know, Like and Trust’ with your (targeted) audience, and demonstrating social proof via testimonials, reviews, and case studies. We’re often told to put the ‘social’ into social media and this is true; building relationships to attract new business as well as staying front of mind with existing clients is key.

2. Don’t hide behind Tech.

Technology provides an efficient and accessible solution to case and client management, and, where possible, automation of processes. Although this may be the most efficient path for the practice, the “face” of the firm should still be human! It is vital that the client builds a relationship and feels comfortable with an expert who is seen to deliver “in-person”, rather than to rely on technology.

3. Communicate Your Value.

As the saying goes, “Under promise and over deliver”. Focus on building client relationships by delivering an exceptional client experience. However, on the basis that “clarity is kind”, managing expectations from the start of your relationship is key to its success. Whilst the client may believe that lawyers are interchangeable, with one offering much the same service as the next, it’s your job to convince them otherwise. Most clients will default to viewing your services as a cost, rather than a value, so it is vital that you actively demonstrate (and periodically remind them!) the ways in which you have saved them money, time, or grief.

4. Create Service Standards.

Create them and communicate them, not only to all team members, but to clients also. Producing a ‘client charter’ helps you demonstrate transparency. Set KPIs to be reviewed regularly to ensure “buy-in” from new staff members.

Whilst it is often the case that focus tends to fall on the “here and now” of any busy practice, it is also vital that time is taken for business development, including client attraction and retention strategies. Building and demonstrating a client-first culture takes time and opt-in of the whole practice, requiring effective communication, not to mention patience, but what is clear is that building client relationships and taking time to understand your client base is the secret sauce that will make all the difference.