American tennis player, Arthur Ashe, famously said: “Success is a journey, not a destination. The ‘doing’ is often more important than the outcome”. This sentiment could not be more apt for business development (BD) too. Gartner, Forbes and others have all indicated that the customer experience is top of the priority list in 2017 and so the journey a law firm takes its clients on will be key to their successes.
It’s true that the ultimate goal of any BD function in a law firm is to bring in more business. To achieve this objective, core to the BD function is understanding the needs of the client. The corresponding relationships, how the firm interacts with them and how the organisation’s services can deliver against their needs, all play a collective role in that awareness generation and helps to shape the journey that a law firm should take those contacts on. What’s important to note is that the relationship at each part of the journey is dependent upon, and who is interacting with whom can change the level of service and overall experience that the clients receive.
For example, if the journey is about aiming new services at current clients within the law firm, then the organisation must be sure to target the right people at the right time with the right message. It can start with educating the firm’s marketers to generate campaigns and create marketing materials designed specifically for key contacts at a particular client. This should take into account the specific services they have expressed a need for, or those that they have an overall interest in. This allows the law firm to pique the interests of the customer and engage at the right time with the right level of detail.
So, the law firm has the customer’s attention, now what? A survey conducted by Harvard Business Review found that firms who contacted a potential lead within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker – is it really worth not making quick contact? Once the conversation takes places, this is where the baton can remain with the firm’s marketers to qualify a lead further to ultimately pass the qualified lead on to the Business development team for nurturing the contact. Ensuring that both parties are engaging through these early stages of the journey are critical to comfort, educate, and position the law firm and promote messages that “we understand you and that your business is safe with our law firm”.
By gathering intelligence on where the relationships with other contacts at the customer organisation are, events they have attended, billable work completed, and more importantly the non-billable work completed, is where the law firm’s business development teams contribute to the journey. They help to build customer relationships and client understanding, and enough confidence to compel the customer to start their journey.
The executives at law firms, are often the gatekeepers in the final leg of the client’s journey. They have been passed the baton from the business development teams who have nurtured the intelligence the firm has gathered collectively and further qualified the lead. The executives cement the whole customer experience through meaningful interaction, further building on the firm’s credibility and showcasing the organisation’s and personnel’s talents.
And what is the end result? The client has been taken on a journey that has been focussed and attuned to their needs, which makes them feel good. They begin to express the quality of service that the law firm has provided and they come back again and again. And what has the law firm achieved? Repeat business, confidence from the customer that they have chosen the right firm, and referrals for the firm with other organisations.
CRM systems must be appropriately customised to deliver against this kind of focussed view on clients and prospects right across the journey. LexisNexis regularly works with law firms to help them tailor Lexis InterAction to their specific needs. We have worked with firms to help InterAction provide a focussed view, be it on their clients, or from the viewpoint of a practice group, department and sector initiatives.
In doing so, essentially, law firms are able to optimise their client data for business advantage, but more crucially strengthen relationships and inculcate trust in their organisations. To make your clients become your advocates, take them on a journey.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou