Although most legal marketing initiatives focus on client acquisition – think lead generation , SEO-powered blogging and good old fashioned networking – client retention offers far more bang for the buck. Studies show that there’s a 60 to 70 percent chance of making a sale to an existing customer compared to just a 5 to 20 percent chance of snagging a new customer through diligent marketing and follow-up – plus, it costs five times more to bring in new customers than to retain existing ones. What’s more, existing customers are also more valuable: as the infographic bears out, existing customers typically spend one third more than new customers and overall, account for between 25 and as much as 95 percent of overall profits.
So what can lawyers do to encourage clients – particularly, consumer clients and small businesses – to stick around. Blogging and newsletters are popular options – but I’ve often wondered how effective these tools are for consumer clients. After all, if clients have just gotten their estate planning wrapped up or finalized a divorce, seems to me they’d rather put it behind them and aren’t likely to have interest in receiving ongoing tips or reading blog posts on how to hire a family law attorney or how a trust differs from a will. Sharing less substantive material – like news of a firm’s charitable activities or photos from the office – on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram may hold slightly more interest – but for privacy reasons, former clients may not want to friend or follow a law firm social media account.
But now, thanks to technology, lawyers can offer useful services to clients to encourage them to stick around. Here’s a sampling:
Corporate Legalinc – Although lawyers can use this service to easily file annual reports or amend corporate filings for clients, by far the best feature of Legalinc is its registered agent service. By designating Legalinc as the registered agent for clients, lawyers don’t have to deal with the associated paperwork. But lawyers will still be notified of any changes in filing requirements in jurisdictions where the company does business or new lawsuits against the company – both of which can generate new business.
Estate Planning Estate Map and Everplans.com will store estate planning documents as well as account information and passwords for banking, social media and other services that clients may want loved ones to have access to after their death. Legal Directives shares the same space but focuses on making healthcare instructions accessible to family members, doctors and emergency personnel. Lawyers can offer to purchase one of these services for clients i- which means they’re more likely to reconnect if there’s a need to make changes. Of course, many law practice management tools also provide the same storage utility – but because the commercial products are consumer-facing, clients may find them more appealing and easier to use than some of the practice management portals.
Family Law Support Pay and Family Law Wizard help divorced couples manage support payments and visitation calendars. (There’s a great video on Support Pay’s female founder and the rationale for the product here ). Family Law Wizard markets itself to law firms – and while it’s a bit pricey – $899 for 10 clients as a bulk purchase – it enables lawyers to stay on top of what’s going on in the case and that makes clients more likely to call them, rather than a new lawyer if a problem arises.
Lawyers can recover the costs of these third-party platforms in several ways. First – if they generate more business then they’ll pay for themselves. But lawyers can also pass the cost of the service on to the client as part of a fee agreement. Or they can create service packages – for example, an ongoing checkup or audit that would include access to one of the third-party platforms.
Of course, as with any other type of outsourcing, ethics rules apply when lawyers use these kinds of third-party platforms to serve clients. Lawyers must use due diligence in investigating the security and reliability of the service – and also disclose the firm’s decision to use a third-party platform to clients.
Do you use any of these third-party platforms in your practice, and how have clients responded? What other techniques do you use to keep clients coming back?