Andy Cullwick of First4Lawyers outlines a five-step action plan for client acquisition and retention in personal injury
Last month, my colleague Qamar Anwar reviewed our mystery shopping exercise, which found that personal injury law firms need to improve their out of hours contact with potential clients.
The research, ‘Creating a customer-first culture’, found that two-thirds of shoppers who called firms after office hours and left a message did not receive a call back, while a third of shoppers who tried to contact firms via their Facebook pages did not receive a reply.
We undertook similar research last year, and the results of our new whitepaper and our previous show clearly that, while there are pockets of high performance, many personal injury firms are still not putting their best feet forward when potential clients make contact. Given the time and money put into attracting those contacts in the first place, this is frustrating.
With competition for the best work set to intensify with the introduction of the Civil Liability Act next year, the incentive for firms to up their game could not be stronger. While reform might be on hold for electioneering, there’s a very strong chance they’ll be back and ready to bite in 2020.
Below I have set out the key elements of how personal injury firms can improve and convert potential clients. Crucially, it needs to be led from the top—if the partners and managers aren’t seen to take this seriously, then how can staff be expected to?
Research has repeatedly shown that consumers assume that the lawyers they contact can do the job—so they choose on the service aspects of the offering. Personal injury claims are different from most other areas of law because price is not a differential, meaning that it comes down to how you present yourself to would-be clients.
Our research indicates that this is the biggest problem firms have. You have to sell yourself—not with a flashy, hard sell—but as a firm that understands what that person is going through and how you can help them. Small changes to the way you approach new business could make a huge difference.
It also means upping your game on social media. Some, more senior, lawyers can dismiss the importance of this, or simply throw their hands up because they don’t really understand how to use it. While the cost of bringing in experts may look prohibitive, your firm no doubt employs staff who use these platforms in their personal lives all the time—so why not draw on their expertise and enthusiasm?
Improving conversion will more than pay for itself. As we head into what will surely be the hardest period for personal injury firms ever, it could make all the difference. I hope our new whitepaper will help law firms on that journey.
Five-step action plan for improvement
- Carry out an internal audit
- Review your existing processes in order to identify the areas that need the most improvement. Make sure that you put your client at the centre of the review—could your processes be improved to make it easier for them?
- Identify your top five areas that require improvement
- You may have your ‘initial contact’ nailed, but perhaps you need to focus on capturing client details and ensuring you have a robust follow up process in place.
- Create an action plan for improvement
- Map out step-by-step actions, along with the people in your team who are going to take responsibility for the different steps and a deadline for completion.
- Implement your plan
- Kick-start your action plan by getting everyone in your team involved. Think of ways in which you can make it as engaging as possible in order to get buy-in.
- Review periodically and celebrate your successes
- Review your plan to see what areas you’re making progress in and be sure to celebrate your successes with your team. Don’t rest on your laurels!
Andy Cullwick is head of marketing at First4Lawyers