Communicating beyond a crisis – how much is too much?

Like most professions, law firms have departed significantly from traditional ways of doing business over the past months. Even as we make our way back to the new normal, forced social distancing has had a major impact on the way we operate and will continue to influence future operations.

With face-to-face meetings being replaced by videoconferencing, and offices closed to walk-in enquiries for several months, many firms have come to realise the importance of regular online communication with their clients.

Some firms already ‘in the game’ have taken existing efforts to the next level by providing useful guidance, explaining important changes, and keeping clients in the loop about the firm’s day-to-day operations. Most of this valuable information was successfully distributed, and well-received, through regular e-newsletters and, when relevant, special purpose emails and alerts.

With so much digital information already available to consumers, and whether or not you have been regularly communicating with your clients, you may be wondering, ‘How much is too much?’, or ‘Have we already missed the boat?’

Rest assured, now is as good a time as ever to start, continue, or step-up communications with your clients and potential clients.

The points below are critical issues to consider:

  • Many consumers are now more capable than before of using search engines and will continue to go online to find the goods and services they require. Hence, the need to keep your law firm front and centre.
  • The ability to deliver certain legal services online and to operate remotely has been proven, and some clients may even expect this moving forward. Hence, the need to provide timely information updates and communicate your capacity to meet your clients’ needs.
  • For the short to medium-term at least, law firms will likely have less ‘walk-ins’ than before, and although restrictions across the states and territories are easing, the hosting of face-to-face seminars and networking events will be subject to restrictions. Hence, the need to utilise technology to reach your potential clients and referrers online.

Why keep communicating?

If clients have signed up or chosen to remain on your contact list it is because they know and trust your law firm and want to receive valuable, useful information from you. This can be successfully implemented through a regular e-newsletter and special purpose emails.

If your law firm is not using e-newsletters as a cost-effective marketing strategy, there has never been a better time to start.

Regularly communicating with your clients also provides opportunities for law firms to help clients beyond their area of expertise, becoming a trusted advisor – this means not only offering legal guidance but being a point of access to refer clients to other professionals and support services.

To find out where to begin and what is involved in a great e-newsletter campaign you can email us for your free Guide to a Successful Law Firm E-Newsetter

Tips on communicating with your clients

Understand your clients and their business

A client-centric approach to communication helps build strong relationships. Law firms need to ensure that their content is focused and relevant which means being proactive, understanding your clients’ needs and using informative content and news alerts that have purpose and generate interest.

Understanding the industry in which your clients operate, explaining how key changes are likely to affect them and providing pragmatic insight into the issues they may be facing is key to choosing effective content for your communications. Using audience segmentation is invaluable for distributing tailored information to a targeted industry group or type of client.

Don’t assume

Understanding your clients and their business is important, it is equally important not to assume that certain changes will have a negative (or positive) impact on your clients or their business operations.

Don’t assume that certain clients in specific industries will be struggling right now – some may have adopted their operations, others will be looking to restructure or even grow.

Changes from the formalities of office meetings to scheduling Zoom or Skype meetings around remote working and home schooling have presented opportunities for more casual communication between clients and lawyers, providing valuable insight into what is going on in your clients’ businesses and lives beyond just the legal issues. Use this information to address your clients’ potential needs.

The good, the bad and the balanced

The tone of your e-newsletter communications should be balanced – content should not be all doom and gloom. Information needs to be accurate and timely, but also positive and helpful so clients can understand the challenges they may face from a legal perspective and the resources and knowledge available to assist them.

Similarly, the content of your newsletter should be balanced – a mix of articles concerning different areas of law for broad appeal is usually appropriate for a generalist law firm. If your firm specialises, content can still be appropriately balanced to appeal across different topics or segments of your audience.

Including an article about the firm in your e-newsletter, particularly one that is upbeat or entertaining, can bring a little lightheartedness amidst the more serious legal issues.

Regular communication with your clients, potential clients and referrers builds trust and rapport. The many changes occurring across the legal landscape and the fact that more consumers are now looking for services and doing business online, is abundant reason to start or continue providing a valuable communication service that ensures your law firm is top of mind and ready to help.

About the author
Peter Heazlewood

Peter Heazlewood

Peter Heazlewood is a management and marketing consultant, he specialises in helping law firms develop their practices using business planning marketing and performance reporting techniques refined in his own successful law firm. Peter lives in Sydney with his wife and is the father of five adult children.
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