Just because someone has signed a retainer to do an estate plan with you doesn’t mean you have a lock on their emotions permanently. Remember that prospects retain your services for emotional reasons as much – and often more than – logistical reasons. They may like your location, but what gets them to go through your intake process and appear at your doorstep is because they have been emotionally engaged with you. That’s what your professionally produced law firm video does.
Once you have made it through the intake process and are starting to work on their estate plan, both they and you are at a somewhat vulnerable point in the relationship. It’s like you’ve had a first date, then a second, and then they start talking to their friends about what this might lead to.
Consider this: they have told six people that they are relieved to have found a caring attorney who they feel they can trust with their lives, and the lives of their children. They have given you every document you asked for, which is not to be taken lightly. They are emotionally vested in you and your firm. When they describe their experience so far with friends, family and colleagues, they are all positive.
We hope that you don’t consider this the end of your client marketing. Because really, you are just in the first inning at this point.
Transforming people from prospects to clients is just step one. The next step is to transform them into raving fans. You want them to be able to justify the emotional and rational reason that they are letting you handle their estate plan. They may be one file out of hundreds for you and your estate planning firm. But to them, you hold their legal and financial lives in your hands.
How can you strategically manage estate planning client relationships?
Don’t let too much time go by without contact. Even if they are getting a phone call or an email with a status update on their file, don’t leave them in a vacuum. While they are waiting, they are being bombarded with messages from other estate planning law firms, including everything from invitations to educational dinners to emails and national advertisements from online legal services that seek to undermine the local estate planning attorney. Keep that communication ongoing.
If they call your office, return the call promptly. If you can’t return the call in less than 24 hours, have a colleague who knows their file or a member of your support team return the call. If you know that you won’t be able to return the call personally, have a team member call back and find out what their concerns are. Have the caller apologize on your behalf for not being able to call them. Notice the theme here: don’t leave them hanging.
Address the emotional side of the estate plan. It’s true, they are hiring you for your estate planning skills and knowledge of the law. But they are hiring a person first. Remember to focus as much on the feelings as on the facts.
Don’t be an alarmist. We have heard of attorneys who tend towards the dramatic. They might not even mean to do this, but when they start with a scary scenario that is meant to show the client how much they need the attorney, they create two problems instead. One, the client is unsettled and feels as if they are seriously at risk. That’s not an emotion you want to be associated with. The other, by setting yourself as the only solution to the problem, you risk alienating the client, who may resent positioning yourself this way.
At IMS, we work with estate planning and Elder Law attorneys to develop their strategic client relationships. As experienced advisors, we understand the dynamics that occur when a client walks in the door. Not sure your clients are having the best possible experience with your firm? Call James at 877-352-2021 ext. 80 to talk about your client relationships.