As a small or solo practice law firm, it can be intimidating to look at what large and corporate legal practices are doing and why. Everything from a large firm’s budget to their practice policies, case proceedings, and marketing strategies will vary from those of a small practice. Despite these differences, glancing at the corporate legal world every now and then can be useful. Large practices tend to notice industry changes quicker, and we can learn a lot about what not to do when looking at statistics.
Two studies that were reported on by Forbes give us some especially interesting insight regarding client satisfaction and the importance of marketing for clients rather than cases. As any law firm knows, legal marketing in 2018 is a challenge. When legal clients have more options than ever for finding and researching firms online, climbing those pages of Google search results can seem daunting to say the least (this is where legal SEO (search engine optimization) comes in, but more on this later!).
The first study was done by Bloomberg Law and the Legal Marketing Association (MLA). In it, it was revealed that over two-thirds of interviewed attorneys agree their law firm is increasing its emphasis on marketing and business development. This revelation shouldn’t be too surprising for most of our readers. Legal marketing is no longer as simple as popping up a billboard and hoping for the best. Great marketing takes time, effort, money, and the right know-how.
The second study is where things get interesting. According to a British study commissioned by LexisNexis and Judge Business School at Cambridge University, “There is unambiguous evidence of a significant and persistent disconnect between law firms and clients.” This disconnect is caused by three specific and persistent causes:
- Clients in need of legal services want solutions while law firms market around offering
- Law firms, when absolving claims or searching for new cases, strive for perfection. They tend to look for cases that fit certain criteria or for results that are ideal. Clients, on the other hand, are generally satisfied with results that are “good enough”. Most would rather finalize a complicated case before spending extra hours and months on a seemingly-perfect resolution.
- Law firms often fail to provide clients or potential clients with any type of cost and time predictability windows. This is due to a variety of reasons, but in today’s fast-moving world, even a rough estimate regarding time length and cost can go a long way to gaining trust—and commitment—from clients.
In addition, 40% of the legal clients who answered the survey stated that the senior partners at the firms they hired often lacked more than a basic knowledge of their businesses. This result is quite surprising, frankly, and highlights the fact that there’s a sizable chunk of client dissatisfaction out there—at least when it comes to corporate firms.
This fact corresponds with the results of the 2015 Lexis Nexis Bellweather Report. 80% of lawyers who responded to the report stated that they’re good at client service while only 40% of legal clients said they’ve received good service from their attorneys. While slight disconnects between client satisfaction and businesses like law firms that look at results as the bottom line are to be expected, a 40% gap seems to proclaim one thing—law firms—both large and small practices—can do better.
Client Satisfaction Matters—Even More Than Results
So, why is there a divide between legal client satisfaction and corporate practices? It can be argued, of course, that larger practices focus more on results and less on individual clients. This assumption may be true, but its effects trickle down to smaller practices.
If potential clients feel that lawyers and legal practices are nothing but results-driven and do not care about keeping their clients satisfied and/or fulfilling client needs, they won’t seek legal advice. This means that less legal practices—both large and small—won’t get new cases. The legal industry must work together to curb this divide and encourage our practices to offer the best client satisfaction we can.
The other reason there may be a divide between client satisfaction and practice expectations has to do with the fact that the legal industry largely operates based on “what’s worked before”. Other professional industries do as well, naturally, but the legal industry has always been known as one that operates on tradition and is sometimes reluctant to change.
There are still law firms and solo practice lawyers out there who don’t have a website. Many don’t understand the importance of having a responsive website. There are many, many firms that don’t have a strong online presence nor see the importance of having one. In an age where every business owner from the kid neighbor who does freelance artwork to the plumber down the street has an online presence, this may seem surprising.
Lawyers are sometimes reluctant to adapt to using technological tools like cloud technology, mobile devices, or legal case management software that can make managing a law firm and its caseload easier. Many lawyers feel that using technology is risky, but in an age where technology is created faster than we can keep up with it, it simply becomes smart business sense to take advantage of some of the tools being offered (and use the necessary precautions that come with them).
As clients are embracing tools like voice search and mobile search, it also becomes smart business sense for lawyers to adapt to using marketing tools that prioritize both forms of search. Excellent SEO is vital for both forms of search as well as gaining new cases, new clientele, and other forms of client retention and trust like referrals, reviews, and more.
It’s Time to End the Divide and Prioritize Client Trust
You might be wondering how SEO and digital marketing can help your firm gain client trust and retention. Here are some points to think about:
- When a potential client needs a lawyer, they place their trust in Google and Bing. Your average client may not understand what SEO does, but they most assuredly understand what a page 1 result means. They know it means those businesses are trustworthy—that they’re doing well enough and have a high enough client base for search engines to say, “Hey, contact this place!” Guess what carries your firm to page 1? SEO.
- A functional website shows you’re on top of technology and care about client satisfaction. No one wants to contact a lawyer who owns a slow, laggy website with illegible text on mobile. If your potential clients can’t tolerate your website, there’s no way they’ll trust your firm enough to reach out.
- Reviews matter. Every consumer these days knows how valuable reviews are for products and businesses alike. The more client reviews you have, the higher your firm will show up in local search results. The higher you appear, the more chances you’ll have of being seen. Reviews come by way of treating your clients awesomely and knowing how to smartly market the process of leaving reviews.
- Website content may not always be read by clients, but search engines browse it for the purposes of client retention. Lawyers sometimes make the mistake of writing blogs and web pages that make heavy use of legalese and talk about cases in a manner that makes sense to them, but not their potential clients. Remember, every search engine’s goal is to find the best content out there for that given audience. This means your content needs to be accessible and authoritative all in one. Focusing on solutions rather than just advice can also build trust.
- Referrals matter. When your firm’s site ranks well and your office is receiving all kinds of phone calls, it’s smart business sense to refer cases you’d prefer to not deal with to another local, friendly firm. This lets you build good relationships with other firms while ensuring that potential client knows your practice is trustworthy. The next time that client needs help with a legal matter, guess what? They’ll know just who to come to.
Client satisfaction begins with good communication. If you’re able to spend more time practicing law and spending time with clients and less time worrying about marketing, you’re able to build stronger relationships with your clients. Hiring a marketing team can let you focus on what really matters—your clients.
Want to learn more? Get in touch today. Tell us your goals and we’ll be happy to tell you how we can help you achieve them.