Remember the two headed Pushmi-pullyu from the children’s classic, Doctor Dolittle? What you probably didn’t realize back then is that the Pushmi-pullyu serves as an apt paradigm for providing information to your clients. I unveiled this concept last week in my presentation at the ABA Tech Show 2008 on “Using Technology to Retain Clients.”
Most experts, the venerable Jay Foonberg included, advise you to bury your clients in paper, sending them every draft you prepare or every document filed in a litigation matter. Sounds terrific in theory, but in practice, constantly streaming documents to clients creates added stress. The growing piles of paper constantly remind clients of the looming matter, not to mention the burgeoning legal costs of each piece of paper generated where you bill by the hour. Paper pushing doesn’t just happen in the context of an ongoing matter; some clients find that even after their matter ends, they continue to receive client newsletters, event announcements and other materials from their former lawyer several times a week.
Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t send clients important materials – drafts where their feedback is required or documents that you filed on a client’s behalf in a case. Likewise, sending clients a monthly newsletter or occasional alert about a change in the law will help keep them up to date on a matter. But you need to exercise restraint with materials that you PUSH on clients.
That’s where the Pushmei-pullyu model comes in to play. Because of technology, we’re not limited to simply PUSHING information on clients. We can also employ tools to PULL clients to information. Tools like blogs or webinars and teleseminars give clients the option of reading or signing up for them – but they’re not forced to do so. Likewise, collaborative technologies like extranets, project management tools like Basecamp, Zoho or Google docs let you post documents online in a password protected location where clients can log in and access information at their convenience. By pulling clients to information, you avoid being an annoyance and you make it easier for them to play an active role in their case.
Bottom line: when it comes to using technology to cement your relationship with clients, you need a little bit of PUSH and a little bit of PULL.