Feb 02, 2010

Using Excellent Client Service to Build Brand and Market a Practice

All too frequently, lawyers treat law practice management and marketing as mutually exclusive matters.   Many times, lawyers invest considerable thought and resources in developing and implementing policies that allow them to effectively and efficiently serve clients, maintain files and collect payment.  Yet lawyers rarely mention these practices in marketing their services - and in doing so, they miss out on an important opportunity to distinguish themselves from the competition. 

Indeed, as this article by Gerry McGovern describes, your firm's law practice management practices are part and parcel of your firm's brand.  In McGovern's case, she judges banks largely on the usability of their online service and unfortunately, they don't fare well.  McGovern believes that's because banks treat customer service and IT issues separately - and fail to recognize how IT design can impact usability:

In fact, I have rarely, if ever, met a senior manager with more than a passing interest in the Web. They think this stuff is technical - something you give to the IT department.
Where customers spend their time is where you build your brand. Organizations need to stop trying to use traditional advertising techniques to create false images. For an increasing number of customers, you are your website. It's about time senior management woke up to that fact.

Unfortunately, in a down economy, are cutting customer service programs rather than enhancing them reports  BigNews.biz.  That's a mistake, says Chris Coles, a CEO of HyperQuality, a customer service solutions provider quoted in the story, because quality service helps companies retain existing customers. 

When you market your law firm, do you describe to clients how you'll serve them?  If your firm has a 24 hour call return guarantee, a client portal, where clients can check the status of cases or Internet access in your waiting room, you should make those features part of the package that you sell to clients, along with your expertise and the results you've obtained in other cases.  And if your firm doesn't offer a suite of client friendly benefits, realize that it's not just a law practice management issue.  It's also a marketing issue that may be impacting the financial health of your law firm.