Three Keys to Increased Client Retention
Client retention is one of the top issues facing law firms today. Yet, for many firms, client retention is an uncoordinated and inconsistent effort. As a result, they lose both clients and revenue.
Providing exceptional client service
Clients hire a firm because they expect great service. But clients remain with a firm because they receive exceptional client service. (Hint: This goes way beyond just providing the project deliverable on time or returning client calls and e-mails.)
To provide exceptional service, you need to fully understand client expectations. Because these are subjective, they will be different for every client. So start by directly asking clients what they expect in terms of deadlines, service quality, project outcomes, progress reports, communication and other factors. Then continually evaluate how well you’re meeting those expectations.
Exceptional client service doesn’t stop with the partners. Firm leaders should communicate client expectations down throughout the firm so everyone involved with the client knows what’s expected and works to deliver that.
Your clients need to feel they receive the maximum amount of value for the money they spend with your firm. But as professionals who live by the billable hour, we often start and stop the clock every time we pick up the phone or respond to an e-mail. This can lead us to equate the level of service we provide with the amount of time we spend on a client.
But clients define service not by how much time you spend on them but by how much you show that you’re invested in advancing their long-term success. Depending on the individual or company, this can mean different things. Some ways to show value might include:
- Introducing them to other professionals who can help them solve a business problem or challenge,
- Spending an hour to educate them on how to do their job better, or [gasp]
- Giving them a free assessment or advice.
Remember that the client is ultimately the one that defines the value, so start by asking them what that means to them and then make sure you follow through.
Clients don’t know what they don’t know. They’re looking to you as their trusted advisor to tell them what they need to know about matters that affect them and what steps they might take to achieve their objectives.
Oftentimes we expend a lot of time and energy when we are courting a potential client to show them what we will do for them, only to forget about our promises once they have signed with us. Proactively bringing ideas to your clients will not only help you retain them and add value to the relationship, but it may also help you generate additional opportunities for business. So what are ways you can be proactive?
- Share articles, blogs, videos or podcasts of interest that will expand their knowledge.
- Schedule regular meetings to discuss their business (not your services) to better understand what they might need in the coming year and then help them achieve that.
- Bring them ideas that will help them succeed, even if it’s not one of your services.
- Do you have a new or innovative approach to a common issue they might face? Share it with them.
- Have you completed an industry survey recently? Schedule a meeting to share it with them.
If you aren’t doing this but your competitors are, clients may begin to question their relationship with you. Therefore, whether it’s through one-on-one conversations, a newsletter, a blog or some other media or forum, make sure you’re proactively providing ideas and information to your clients.
Building a loyal client base
Practicing exceptional client service won’t just help you retain your clients. It will also help you uncover new opportunities to generate revenue from them. By giving clients what they want and working to advance their success, you’ll secure your client relationships, win client loyalty and boost your success, too.