One of the most important skills successful lawyers have is the ability to understand, and manage, their customers’ life cycles.
When I talk about a client life cycle, I refer to the journey a prospect takes from when they first notice you, to following you and consuming any relevant information you might provide, right through to them becoming becoming your customer and then having a mutually beneficial relationship with you.
If lawyers primarily focus on lead generation and immediate wins, but then fail on client service, don’t follow up with clients or are not seen as adding value to client relationships, then they will lose their best customers.
This loss comes about because they either don’t know their customers’ life cycles or have simply not got resources allocated to understand how the services they provide match any changes in their client’s businesses.
Larger firms may have client relationship managers whose role is to do this effectively. However, many law firms don’t and some have client relationship managers that do not get this spot on.
For example, after helping draft business contracts, how many lawyers offer their clients a monitoring service to see how the business not only enforces the contract but changes the way it might need to operate in order to benefit more as a result of the new business relationship created (something that does not have to remain the responsibility of in-house lawyers).
If lawyers understood their clients’ life cycles, and wanted to add value throughout the life cycles, there are a few things they may want to consider if they want to retain their clients. These include:
- First of all, managing the steps with which they first interact with their clients (e.g. by using social media to point prospects to relevant information free of charge; upselling them to a seminar, webinar or event; and, finally, giving a call to action that points them to an investigation meeting during which they clearly outline what steps they will take to help prospects address their problems);
- Changing their communications tactics as relationships develop – what you say to someone who has made an initial enquiry might not be relevant to someone who now needs more case studies to help them make a final purchase decision or wants to feel positive that they have made the right decision. How you map the changes in communication effectively over time is crucial to building and maintaining trust with clients;
- Defining what add-on or upsell opportunities exist as relationships develop / change over time, making sure they are synergistic / complimentary;
- Figuring out how to introduce and discuss new payment options given the increased level of trust between both parties.
In addition, the benefits of understanding client life cycles from a marketing point of view include:
- Knowing in advance what your marketing and sales should be achieving;
- Making sure you systematically develop trusted relationships with customers before selling higher-priced legal services;
- Managing your sales funnels much more effectively for various stages of ‘prospect-to-client’ life cycles;
- Providing opportunities to see if all options available to help clients and add value have been discussed.
Managing clients is not easy, and lawyers have a high standard to achieve before they are even considered for high-value legal services. It is much easier to attract and manage clients if some thought is put into not only understanding life cycles, but making sure there is value added at each stage of a client’s life cycle from a communications, payment and service-deliver point of view.