No matter what type of practice you have or the size of your law firm, welcoming a new client in a meaningful way remains important. Kicking off someone’s first experience with your business provides an excellent opportunity to showcase your customer service and start things off on the right foot. The initial welcome can help keep client expectations reasonable and build the trust and confidence that you need to succeed.
The welcome message is critical — it is one of the single most important communications businesses can send. Customers are five times more likely to engage with you in the first 90-100 days than at any other point. So, it’s very important that you have a dialogue with them at the onset not just the end.
A law firm’s primary objectives in developing and utilizing a new client welcome packet include (1) reinforcing the good decision the client made in hiring your law firm, (2) easing your client into the often new and unfamiliar world of the legal industry, and (3) providing all of the necessary information a client will need in one place.
There are many variables that affect the attorney-client relationship. Some of the most relevant include:
- Some firms have their clients execute employment contracts in person and some firms send contracts in the mail or electronically to be signed remotely.
- Some engagements are project-based, hourly, or worked off of a retainer and some engagements involve a contingency fee and last until the case is resolved, regardless of duration.
- Some clients are businesses, where you work with an individual or a group of individuals authorized to act on behalf of the company. Some clients are individual people who have suffered an injury due to the negligence of a third party. Some clients are groups of people affected by a common issue.
SAY HELLO FOR REAL: WELCOME PACKET
Providing your client with easy-to-digest information at the inception of your working relationship will do a lot to ease their concerns. You can provide this information in hard-copy format or electronically (or both). Providing instructions, timelines, expectations, and more will help set your law firm apart from others in your field and define the parameters of your working relationship with your clients.
Make sure your law firm’s new client welcome packets are welcoming, professional, useful, and make a great first impression. A sleek, professional look and feel goes a long way toward showing the client that you are a financially solvent entity that has sufficient business to warrant the expenditure of marketing dollars on such handouts.
THE CORE COMPONENTS OF A LAW FIRM WELCOME PACKET
- Welcome letter
- Contact information sheet: provide contact information for the employees the client will be dealing with on a regular basis
- Policies and procedures
- Financial information sheet about billing rates, when to expect invoices, and potential firm expenses. This can even include a sample invoice.
- Fee agreement/contract of employment
GIVE THEM STRUCTURE: REGULARLY SCHEDULED MEETINGS
Scheduling meetings in advance between you and your client, whether they are once a week, once a month, or once a quarter, avoids common lack of communication complaints. This allows you to get customer feedback on an ongoing basis during the course of your representation. Be sure to welcome and ask for constructive feedback from each client.
You can still provide your client with a variety of options for these meetings, including face-to-face, Skype, phone call, and more.
GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO REMEMBER YOU BY: SWAG
Sometimes the little things can make all of the difference. When a law firm provides free swag, if it is really cool and useful, the recipients take notice and find it memorable. Swag refers to branded tangible items that a business gives out as a form of advertising –including elements like the entity’s colors, logo, and tagline.
Many law firms buy swag in bulk and seek to use it year-round, but an easy way to differentiate your practice is to provide seasonal items. In the summer, you can provide branded beach towels, sunhats, portable headphones, Frisbees, and grilling utensils. I live in Houston, Texas and we always need more umbrellas, especially during tropical storm and hurricane season. A few expert tips include avoiding heavy, bulky items that are not easy to transport (like a paperweight) and providing something useful (like a travel first aid kit).
You can also take your swag to the next level by taking photos of your clients, staff, and others with your branded items for use on your website, social media channels, and other digital assets.