Building Trust to Generate Referrals
According to a poll administered by the American Bar Association, 46 percent of consumers will ask a friend, family member or colleague for a referral when looking for a lawyer. Similarly, 65 percent report that reputation, ratings, and reviews have a significant influence on their hiring decisions. So, a good reputation among existing clients is critical to attracting more clients.
But how do you get there?
The secret to turning clients into loyal fans – the kind who consistently refer business your way over and over again – is to create meaningful relationships with them. Here are some practical tips to help you build trust with clients, generate loyalty and, form the kind of relationships that drive word-of-mouth referrals.
Inventory Your Infrastructure of Trust
Take a few moments to consider the fundamentals of your practice and make a list. What do you absolutely need to run your practice and serve your clients at a basic level? Think about the things you do or use every single day and ask: “Could I cut this out and still deliver the service my clients expect?” If it can’t be eliminated, add it to your list. For example, reliable internet, phone service, and email are probably must-haves on your list, as is doing a client intake process and so forth. Once you have your list, ask yourself:
- What items on this list can be made easier?
- Which can be automated?
- What are my pain points surrounding these list items, and how might I remedy them?
If, for example, you write a similar email to clients over and over, you can turn it into a template to save time. Also, you might set up auto-pay so that you never get a service lapse in your high-speed internet.
It’s so rare that we take the time to inventory our fundamentals, but it’s important because the items on your list all play into the trust you’re earning with your clients. Before you can build a solid relationship with clients, you first need to consistently deliver the basic service you promise. By streamlining the everyday essentials that keep your practice running, you’ll not only reduce your stress (and the stress of your team) but have the service infrastructure that your clients can rely on. You want to make it as easy as possible to do what you say you’ll do for your clients, so wherever you can, create systems to ensure consistency.
Fostering Loyalty: Touchpoints
Every client interaction is an opportunity to either deliver on the trust you’ve built and use that trust to earn loyalty, or damage that trust and move backward. What are all of your clients’ touchpoints? Even seemingly small interactions are moments in time that make an impression in your client’s mind:
- Your hold music;
- How long your phone rings before it is answered;
- How your phone is answered (friendly?);
- The way your assistant gives directions to your office;
- Think of touchpoints as ALL interactions between anyone your practice and a client.
Each touchpoint can affect a client’s opinion of your practice.
It’s time to make another list, one that includes all the client touchpoints you can think of. Once this list is complete, think about the impression you want your clients to have when they interact with your practice. Then, hone in on the touchpoints that impact that impression.
“Every client interaction is an opportunity to either deliver on the trust you’ve built and use that trust to earn loyalty, or to damage that trust and move backward. What are all of your clients’ touchpoints?”
Forming Real Relationships
Once you’ve built a solid infrastructure and refined your client touchpoints, take what you’ve learned in creating all of those smaller connections to create a larger “wow-worthy” experience. Don’t be afraid to see your clients as friends at this point: You want to approach your clients through a relationship-focused lens. Ask relevant and appropriate questions and find ways to connect with them on a personal level. You want your client to leave your office feeling cared about and connected in a meaningful way!
This article was written by Christina Burns, VP of Customer Success at Ruby Receptionist. This article titled “It Starts With Trust” was first published in “Happy Clients, Happy Lawyers” by AttorneyatWork and Ruby Receptions in March 2018.