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Thank you! Two simple words that can mean so much

Do you thank your clients for their business at the conclusion of a matter, perhaps after they pay their final invoice? Two simple words can mean a lot to your client and equally your firm.

Why it’s important to say thank you.

While many firms invest heavily in business development and sourcing clients, seldom is that same investment directed towards post-matter activities for former clients. As the saying goes, it is easier to convince a current customer to buy more than to land a new one, and this article will demonstrate just how effective nurturing former clients can be.

The matter lifecycle often concludes with the payment of a final invoice. This milestone presents you and your firm with a great opportunity for a tailored ‘thank you’ note for your client’s business. Former clients are often your best referral source and concluding a matter on this courteous note can leave a lasting impression that will lead to your name being quoted at a BBQ with friends. Too often, lawyers can be labelled as the expensive money hungry professionals that schmooze, wine and dine, potential clients, to then take the cash at the conclusion of a matter and never speak to their clients again.

Such an approach today, in the potent word-of-mouth environment we live in, is wasting a prime chance to have your name spoken about at BBQs. A colleague of mine once said: “The best time to talk to a client is when they do not owe you a cent.” I could not agree more with this sentiment and an effective matter closure and post-matter nurturing approach should be adopted.

Ways to thank your clients.

A simple, tailored thank you call, note or email from the lead Partner of an engagement is a simple yet effective tool to leave a lasting impression of your firm with a client. Ultimately, clients seek lawyers to address problems and a thank you note for your client’s business is a easy and cost-effective marketing tool that shows your firm cares for your clients, their welfare and the situation they were in that you assisted resolving.

This personal touch will lead to your clients remembering that positive experience in dealing with you and will mean your name is referred to friends, family and colleagues; the best marketing of all. Furthermore, setting reminders for yourself to contact former clients is also an effective way to ensure that your firm’s name continues to permeate the legal referral grapevine. This approach is particularly important in the more personal, sensitive areas of law such as family law or personal injury.

Diarising a call to former clients at regular intervals of, say, 3 to 4 months, to simply check-in and see if they are OK is a great gesture and one clients find a welcome surprise.

Adding your client’s name and email to your firm’s marketing database is common, and often only, approach firms utilise. Whilst this is effective to ensure your former clients receive regular information from your firm as part of the standard content distribution, nothing can substitute the effectiveness of the personal touch of a phone call.

I advise my clients that their goal should be to shift the label their clients use to refer to them. The aim should be to shift from being referred to as “my lawyer”, to simply being referred to as their name. This small yet symbolic shift shows you have nurtured a strong relationship and are seen as their trusted advisor, not just a name on a business card they have thrown in a top drawer.

As current and former clients are often assessed as a firm’s key referral source, the investment in this group should form a significant part of your firm’s business development strategy. Nurturing former clients may or may not lead to repeat engagements, however it will lead to continual referrals and a growing network of more referees. And best of all, it is likely the cheapest marketing activities you will ever do; it just takes time.

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