Often done badly, if at all, when it comes to onboarding new clients, in our experience most law firms don’t do it well.
We see onboarding as a process in which firstly you validate the client for making their decision to seek your help and not the other 4571 law firms and you do all that is necessary to settle them in comfortably for the rest of the journey.
Let’s say we’re a family law practice, here’s how we would onboard.
Acknowledge it Starts Way Before We Think it Starts
Is a client a client only after they sign an agreement? Your law society or association would deem that to be the case, but we think from a lead nurture perspective it happens way before then. It starts at the first engagement your client has with any marketing touchpoint because that’s when this person starts to shape their opinion of your law firm. In this context, there are a few things that you need to know about engagement, the most important is that in our experience, despite a client being referred to your firm by a friend, they do look to validate that referral by going online to see if all things marry up.
Use Lead Acquisition Technology that Speaks with Your Voice
We’ve spoken about the family and estate planning platform Settify elsewhere on this website, but essentially it’s an online platform increasingly used by UK and Australian law firms and it takes the user through a series of questions, populating responses based on them. There are a bunch more attributes to the platform, but why we like it in the context of onboarding is because it assists in the early stages of the process, allowing your firm to craft your own language. In Settify’s recent report of 10,900 users, one of the key pieces of feedback was that users liked the personalisation of the process.
Regardless of whether your firm uses Settify or something else, using a lead acquisition platform that has hallmarks of your firm’s personality is important. We talk a lot about the importance of smart forms, but taking the extra time to consider them through the lens of the first step in building a client relationship will help!
Use Your Technology for Everyone
In circumstances where a client has called your firm to make an appointment, don’t ignore the opportunity to have them complete a smart form prior to their attendance. Such a form can forecast to your lawyers ahead of time not only the key issues but also potential scope of the work. For example, if a client calls to make a time to update their Will, a link to them via email triggering a smart form may pose questions related to their family dynamic that may point to the possibility of a testamentary trust.
Integrate a CRM for Follow Up and Data Analysis
If your law firm has taken the time to integrate smart forms or chatbots into your onboarding sequence, it follows that you’ll want to do follow up. A CRM is a great way to do this. Sure, you may have an automated email response platform that your law firm uses, but a CRM is a far more holistic platform with plenty of other opportunities for engagement.
Answer the Phone
You wouldn’t be surprised to learn that all the lead generation and nurture that has been done to this point can be unravelled with a bad call response. We recently came across it when one of our clients had their receptionist on leave. She’s great, charismatic, empathetic, friendly and driven by the objective of creating a great client experience and of course, seamlessly shoehorning people into appointments. Her replacement for the two-week interval was the opposite!
At Fast Firms, we have our own call tracking and recording platform. Not only is it great to track where your leads are coming from, but also the call recording function can allow your firm’s practice management team to critique calls and enhance improvement.
Use your law firm’s call waiting to express your Firm’s personality and validate the reason why the person has called. We’re big proponents of using this time proactively.
Build Your Documents
Sure, everything is digital these days, but don’t ignore the importance of print collateral. If it were us and we were running your firm, we’d have relevant guides for each practice area, including not only useful information about the road ahead but also profiles of key client-facing team members. In addition to this, most certainly in matters relating to personal injury law, we’d design the relevant roadmap to visually position the client in the context of the claim process.
Train Your Lawyers
In our experience over the last 10 years helping law firms to do onboarding better, invariably we find that lawyers are eager to get to the issue often failing to validate the client for their decision in choosing the firm and exposing them to relevant practice areas that may be required along the journey. Some firms struggle with the concept of upselling, let alone at the first meeting. Now, this is certainly not what we’re suggesting, but what we are is that you do whatever is necessary to maximise the opportunity of the client feeling holistically cared for and you minimise the risk of the client seeking help for an area of law she did not think you practised. We often hear firms tell stories of the family law client of a general practice law firm who went somewhere else for their estate planning and conveyancing because they didn’t think the firm did it.
Within 24 hours, if it was us running your firm, we would have someone in the practice management team reach out to the client to check in on their first meeting and whether or not there was anything else they required.
Get Our Help
In our experience, most law firms don’t onboard new clients well if at all. We’d encourage your firm to not only consider these recommendations but also on a large piece of paper, map the perfect client journey for each practice area. Do this collaboratively with other members of the relevant practice area and if you need help with any marketing or technology collateral to punctuate the journey or help to workshop both the client mapping and more broadly, the onboarding process, reach out.