Talk is so underrated.
It’s also essential during the pandemic. The stream of new issues facing your clients — whether it be new rules and regulations, new hires and work balance, or returning to work — can’t be captured by email.
Clients’ questions are multi-dimensional, making email a sub-optimal vehicle to ask these questions. Your answers also likely need to be multi-dimensional, and in turn email may be making them more difficult to appropriately convey. Conversations with their give and take, probes, and real-time exchanges are the most powerful tool.
BTI research reveals only 21% of clients receive calls from their attorneys to discuss how they can help, inquire about how they are doing, or to check-in. 79% receive a lot of emails and newsletters — but no voice communications. This translates into missed opportunities to develop business and better relationships with clients. (We should note these are calls outside the context of a current or active matter.)
But attorneys have dozens of reasons for not calling. Here are the reasons bubbling up to the top:
“I would call my client for what??”
“I have a new fire drill practically every day, who has time to call”
“It’s a good day when you don’t hear from your lawyer”
“They are working at home and I can’t locate their cell number”
“I don’t think I should be the one calling”
“I don’t want to bother my client, they are so busy”
“I’ve been meaning to, but I’ve been swamped with work”
“Isn’t that kind of old school — I prefer emails”
“All I have is my mobile phone at home so I’m trying to leave it open”
“It takes so long to leave a message when they don’t answer, so I don’t bother”
Now contrast this with the rainmakers who call clients and know just what to ask and how to help. They are among the first to call their clients and make suggestions. They are prepared. These client-centric partners:
- Make a list of key risks clients are likely facing. These typically include:
- Communication around WFH policies
- How to manage the plethora of regulatory guidelines
- Strategies for managing the in-house legal team
- Risks from the client perspective
- Develop 3 to 5 probing questions designed to get clients to share:
- What does this look like for you
- This is what I am seeing at my other clients — what are you seeing
- What issues are of most concern
- How is your department holding up
- What is the company asking of you now
- Offer ideas on meeting new challenges — and listen carefully while clients respond and brainstorm about a new idea
- Set a time to call again — and ask about changes and progress
Clients value these high-octane calls. They get ideas, direction, validation of their own ideas, learn new insights, and feel like there is a safety net out there for them. Most clients look forward to these calls because they not only help, but provide an intellectual respite.
We highly recommend law firms recommend, cajole, suggest, or even require relationship managing attorneys to make an outreach call to at least one client. Train them, help them prepare, and share the list of risks, questions, and ideas with all partners. You will be in an exclusive and highly differentiated club where membership is valued — and will continue to be valued long after the pandemic is gone.
Be well. Be safe.
The Mad Clientist