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By prioritizing communications with potential clients, you can minimize missed opportunities throughout the client development process.
Lawyers who fail to communicate with their clients place their license to practice in professional jeopardy. Rule 1.4 of the ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct requires lawyers to regularly communicate with their clients so that the clients can “participate intelligently in decisions concerning the objectives of the representation and the means by which they are to be pursued[.]” Lawyers who fail to obtain the informed consent of their clients while making decisions, and who do not keep clients informed of the status of their case, may find themselves at the unwelcome end of a disciplinary hearing.
While the model rule only imposes the duty to communicate on a lawyer in an attorney-client relationship, lawyers should recognize the importance of communications at the start of the client lifecycle and how the failure to communicate even before a retainer agreement has been signed can depress the ROI of their client development campaigns.
Lawyers seeking to reach new clients on the Internet have many choices, including websites, blogs, PPC ads and legal directories. While each option has its own set of benefits and costs, the commonality between all of them is that the ROI is intrinsically tied to converting prospects into clients. By prioritizing communications with potential clients, you can minimize missed opportunities throughout the client development process.
Here are six different ways to boost your return on investment by rethinking how you communicate with prospective clients.
1. Make It Easy for Prospective Clients to Call You. Web metrics have monitored the ongoing shift in web usage from desktop/laptop computers to mobile devices. If your law firm website has not adjusted to this transition, you may be losing potential clients who arrive on your website through a smartphone or tablet. Making it easier for mobile users to call you by adding click-to-call functionality is the most critical feature on a mobile website. We have seen mobile searches drive a high percentage of phone calls to law firms, and we design all Justia law firm websites with a sticky header offering a tap-to-call feature to improve mobile conversion rates.
2. Hire an Answering Service. Emergencies occur at the most inopportune times. If a potential client is trying to reach you off-hours or on weekends, will their urgent call be met by a live receptionist or a sterile voicemail message? Having an answering service provides an immediate human connection and can demonstrate that your law practice is responsive to clients. Just having a comforting voice that lets them know their message was received makes a big difference.
3. Offer an Online Chat. Law firm websites do not have to be passive marketing tools. Instead of waiting for a phone call or a contact form submission, online chats can prompt the visitor to see if the firm can provide any assistance. Not everyone that visits your website will contact the firm, but by actively prompting the visitor, you may be able to improve the percentage of visitors who are converted into bona fide prospects.
4. Improving Phone Pick-Up Speed. When calling a business, how many times will you allow the phone to ring before you hang up? If someone is attempting to reach your office, how many times will the phone ring before you or your receptionist picks up the phone? Phone pick up speed is critical for client development because it provides a strong first impression that the lawyer will be available and accessible during the attorney-client relationship. While SEO, content and keywords remain important factors in a law firm website, offline factors can make or break the success of your marketing campaign.
5. Take a Message. While voicemail is convenient, offering to take a message provides the caller with a personal touch. There’s also the added opportunity to confirm the spelling of a name or the digits in a phone number, so that all the details are correct. This avoids the voicemail problem where the name or phone number is mumbled or inadvertently clipped.
6. Return Missed Calls as Soon as Possible. Once a potential client leaves a message with your office, the race begins to see which attorney will be the first to respond. How quickly you call back may provide some insight into how client-focused your law office is operated.
When designing a law firm website, the focus is frequently on the graphics, tag lines, layout, SEO and text. However, offline factors can dramatically impact the success of your website or even your PPC ad campaign. Not everyone one that visits your website will call. Not everyone who calls will leave a voicemail. By not only redesigning a website, but also your communications protocol, you can minimize your missed opportunities along the way and get more clients from your online marketing campaigns.