Relationships are the most valuable assets an attorney can possess. You don’t agree? Regardless of how large or small your practice is, how much revenue you generate, or how superior your products and services are, it won’t make any difference if you lack “relationship capital.” Traditionally, relationship capital was built through face-to-face connections via meetings, networking and events. Although these touch points certainly remain relevant, the digital age has changed the way we communicate and enhance meaningful relationships with others.
While most of us would still prefer to meet and greet our clients with a smile and handshake, the opportunities for face-to-face contact are dwindling with the expansion of online transactions. Time is a commodity and the internet allows us to maximize it by providing us with secure access to our accounts and important information from any location. This gives us the ability to multi-task, skip the commute and get more done in less time. Meetings now occur via Skype and Facetime, WebEx and GoToMeeting. We don’t need to be in the same room, much less the same state or country, in order to facilitate business.
Build relationship capital by taking advantage of digital tools
How do you build relationship capital when you can’t see each of your clients and prospects in person on a regular basis? Building relationship capital electronically follows essentially the same formula as previous methods. People establish relationships with other people. Your clients are less interested in the transactional aspect of your relationship and more interested in receiving solutions to their problems.
As tangible contact decreases, the desire for a more personal digital connection increases. People are intrigued by people, not by things (the latest cutting edge technical gadget notwithstanding). To maximize relationship capital in the digital arena, communications should focus more on who you are and what you’re doing rather than on product and service promotions. Should you include announcements about new services or highlight your expertise? Of course. Just remember that digital communications typically lean toward the casual and personal. Perpetual sales pitches will turn your clients off.
Nurture, woo and engage your clients with human interest stories and helpful content
From the seemingly commonplace to the vitally essential piece of estate planning advice, your clients expect you to be a trusted and reliable resource, which merely serves to strengthen your bond. Email newsletters and social media platforms are invaluable ways to confirm and strengthen business relationships. Make a virtual and emotional connection with your clients by providing them with relevant, timely, informative and relatable information.
Consider highlighting the human interest aspects of your law firm. Implement a campaign that introduces new hires, celebrates personal achievements, shares community and charity activities, showcases team-building events, and includes personalized holiday greetings. These touch points reinforce your relationship with your clients and show that the people who comprise your firm are just as important as the services that they provide. It makes you more relatable, enhancing trust and earning loyalty.
In addition to demonstrating your firm’s humanity, provide the kind of educational and informative content that your clients are interested in. Provide answers to questions before they are asked. Your estate planning clients expect you to provide professional guidance, tips and strategies – or they will find it elsewhere. It is essential that you remind your clients of your interest in them and their success more than once a year when they come in to review their plans.
Develop a process to continuously build relationship capital all year ‘round
Equity is built over time by regularly paying into and increasing your practices’ value. The same can be said for growing relationship capital. The more effort you put in, the more reward you take out: loyalty, referrals, supplemental business, long-term security. Your estate planning practice will suffer without a process in place to nurture and grow your relationship capital. Regularly distribute valuable content to your clients and establish an emotional connection with them by sharing stories about you and your staff. Actively and consistently reaffirm your value and worth through your communications. Nurture your clients with email newsletters on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. Share your newsletter articles on your website and social media platforms to not only give your clients an additional method of interacting with you, but also to extend your reach beyond your current client base and begin the relationship-building process with prospects.
Your clients are far more likely to remain loyal and recommend your firm to their friends if you deliver solutions and build your relationship capital one message at a time.
Becca Fieler is an Online Marketing Specialist for the BizActions | PDI Global brands from Thomson Reuters. She provides strategic planning and oversight for our online and email marketing initiatives. Becca also helps clients develop comprehensive marketing and lead generation programs. She is a prolific writer when she has time. Read more of Becca’s blog posts here.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555