Guest post by Wendy Nemitz.
It’s all too common. Clients will seek other law firms for certain services because they don’t realize that their primary law firm does it.
Silo syndrome strikes again. This culture of isolation within firms keeps attorneys focused on their own clients and practices — leaving little time or awareness of what’s happening in the rest of the firm.
Attorneys aren’t the only professionals affected by silo syndrome. But the risks of client mishandling may be higher. There are situations where litigators pursue an industry, only to find that key industry players are served by the government relations team. Or, a client has a contract dispute and it turns out that the business services group drew up the original documents. Surprise!
Silo syndrome can happen in small and large law firms. More frequently, attorneys are simply missing opportunities to expand and cross-sell services to clients who already trust them. If clients are shopping other firms for needs that their primary firm supports, it wastes time and money on both sides.
Do you want to waste your best clients’ time and money? Do you want to throw away business? If not, try a new strategy.
Share and Share Alike
Every month, schedule a client highlighter meeting. The results are eye opening when you realize how your firm could better serve clients just by asking about their needs and informing them of additional firm services.
Here’s how it works: Each highlighter meeting focuses on one top client of the firm. The relationship attorney brings information about this A client. You discuss the client’s current dealings, challenges, successes and future plans. You can also discuss trends in the client industry, services they’ve used at the firm to date and a little about the client’s primary decision makers — their personalities and preferences.
Although the relationship attorney will lead the meeting, an attorney from every other firm practice group should be there to provide feedback on additional services available to the client. And someone should take notes.
Once you’ve discussed opportunities, discuss any conflicts or risks. For clients that pass the conflict or risk test, set at least two action steps that will inform that client of additional services available to them.
Don’t Just Sit There
To make a highlighter meeting successful, all attorneys — especially the relationship attorney — must be open to new ideas for the client. Not all ideas will be presented to the client, but internally they will help inform the attorneys of what is available to enhance their own practices.
The educational phase with clients could include anything from a brief chat to introducing the client to another attorney in the firm to hosting a seminar for clients on topics that concern them. The seminars are educational while emphasizing expertise in the firm that clients should know about.
You may discover after a few months of client highlighter meetings that several of your clients worry about the same legal issues. This is a ripe opportunity for a newsletter article, webinar or direct mail campaign on these topics.
Make Clients Feel Valuable
One law firm followed up the client highlighter meeting by drafting a letter to the client. The letter explained the client’s valued status, and that the firm had an internal meeting — at no cost — to brainstorm how the firm could provide additional value to that client. The relationship attorney outlined the best ideas from the meeting and closed the letter by saying that he would call soon to discuss the ideas.
The impact is usually immediate. Clients appreciate the additional attention to their needs. Plus, clients who use additional services have a higher retention rate on average than those who use just one attorney or service. The more services they use, the higher their loyalty and trust rises.
If your firm is concerned about client retention, generating more business or providing better service to valued clients, don’t let silo syndrome sabotage good relationships. Be proactive in the coming months. Host a client highlighter meeting. It may surprise you and your clients in a good way.
Wendy Nemitz is founding principal at Ingenuity Marketing Group LLC, which focuses exclusively on strategic marketing and positioning of professional service firms. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ingenuitymarketing.com.