If you want your law firm to continue growing and thriving, one of your best bets is to optimize for more client referrals. When a client refers another patron to your business, they’ll be giving you a warm lead that requires no action on your part; it’s an inexpensive opportunity to gain a new client who’s already somewhat familiar with your brand. Done right, your referral strategy can keep your law firm running smoothly, giving you a steady stream of new clients and new revenue in exchange for minimal upkeep.
So what steps can you take to earn more referrals?
The Model for More Referrals
The model for increasing referrals is simple. On the front end, you’ll need to do more heavy lifting to ensure your clients get the best possible service. The better you serve your clients and the happier they are at the end of your relationship, the more likely they’re going to refer you. On the back end, you’ll need to give your happy clients the proper motivation to refer you – or else they may not do it.
Relationships and Service
According to Parker Scheer, “your law firm will flourish or perished based on how you treat your clients. Provide good service and get to know your clients and they’ll be eager to work with you again—or send more people your way.”
The better you serve your clients, the more they’re going to want to refer you.
- Make clients your top priority. First, make your clients the top priority. Your entire business needs to revolve around client satisfaction. Your lawyers are likely already doing their best to serve your clients well, but you also need to consider the other staff members in your organization; what contributions can each team member make to improve the experience of each client?
- Actively listen. When onboarding new clients, take the time to actively listen to what they’re saying. Too often, lawyers have an idea of what they’re looking for, and do a lot of talking rather than listening; they ask specific questions and try to fit their clients into a box. Instead, patiently listen as your client explains the situation. When clients feel heard, they’re much more likely to walk away happy.
- Set realistic expectations. Expectations are everything. If you under-promise and over-deliver, you’ll be in a much better position than if you do the opposite, or if you barely meet expectations. Try not to promise too much, especially in the early stages of your relationship.
- Provide emotional support. You’re a lawyer, not a therapist, so it’s not your responsibility to guide your clients to an emotional resolution or to better mental health. However, providing a bit of emotional support during a challenging time or a difficult case can differentiate you from other law firms—and make your clients happier with your service.
- Practice ongoing, transparent communication. Be open and honest with your clients. Give them regular updates so they know what to expect and when to expect it.
- Offer additional resources. Depending on the situation, it could be beneficial to offer additional resources to your clients. For example, you may refer them to a source of funding, a therapist, or a medical specialist who can help them through a tough time.
- Follow up. Check-in with your clients to see how they’re doing after the case is complete. It’s a great opportunity to touch base.
Facilitating More Referrals
Of course, even if you provide stellar service, many happy clients won’t go out of their way to refer you to other people—unless you give them a reason.
- Ask for referrals. Many lawyers are shy about asking for referrals, but it’s a necessary step if you want more clients headed your way. Let your clients know that you’re always looking for warm referrals and that you appreciate them.
- Use newsletters and mailing lists to stay top of mind. Keep your law firm and your brand top of mind with direct mail advertisements and email newsletters. You don’t want your clients to forget about you!
- Incentivize referrals. In some situations, you may be able to incentivize referrals. For example, you may offer a $50 gift card to clients who send a new client your way.
- Get real feedback. Take the time to collect genuine feedback from your former clients. Were all their expectations met or exceeded? If you get negative feedback, you’ll have a meaningful opportunity to improve.
If you can follow these strategies, you should be able to get a steady stream of referrals from the clients you’re already serving well. It may take some time to get all the moving parts in place, but once you do, your law firm will be in a position to grow much faster.