A “How To” Guide on Building Trust
When someone is searching for an attorney, it means they need help with a legal issue that they cannot resolve on their own. They are looking for a lawyer who has the experience and skills to effectively deal with their issue, but more importantly, they are looking for a legal professional that they can trust.
Client relationships are built on a foundation of trust, and a successful firm is built on strong client relationships. Establishing trust from the outset is critical, because if a prospect does not believe you are trustworthy, they will just move on to the next lawyer on their list. Once you have convinced a prospect to retain your services, you need to deliver on what you promise, so you can maintain their trust.
Here are 7 ways that lawyers and law firms can earn the trust of clients and prospective clients:
- Be Transparent
Whether it is on your website copy, blog content, newsletter, voicemail greeting, or however else you communicate with prospective clients, you should have a unified message across all communication platforms that is open, honest, and lets prospects know what you and your firm are all about.
Avoid any type of deception on your website or anywhere else. For example, if you have a chat box on your website that says, “answers to your questions”, make sure you are actually answering their questions, rather than just trying to sell them a consultation.
Also make sure to be transparent about your pricing. If you work on contingency, disclose that in your communications so they are assured that you will only take attorney fees if you win their case. If you charge a flat fee, try to give them some idea what it is. Fees are often based on a number of factors, such as the complexity of the case and how many hours you will be putting in. At the very least, give them a worst-case ballpark figure, so they know whether or not they can afford your services.
- Show them Who You Are
One of the best ways to establish rapport with a client is to get them to see you as a human being, rather than just another lawyer. Post photos and detailed biographies of the attorneys and staff on your website that includes pictures of spouses, kids, etc. Talk about some of your personal interests and hobbies, your passions, why you got into law in the first place, maybe some charity work you are involved in, and other details that will help you connect with clients. It would also be a good idea to create some videos that allow you to speak directly to prospects and establish a personal connection with them before they even enter your office.
- Show Them What You Can Do
A major part of establishing trust is showing your prospects that you can successfully handle cases like theirs. This is done in a number of ways. Of course, referrals are great, because you will have built in trust with a prospect who is referred by someone you have effectively represented in the past. Client testimonials can have a similar effect, especially those that are detailed and tell the prospect a story that they can relate to. Video testimonials are best for this.
Another way to show them what you can do is by creating detailed area of practice (AOP) pages and FAQ pages on your website, as well as blogging frequently about compelling topics that are related to your area of practice. Each AOP page should contain detailed information about a certain type of law you practice (e.g., car accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice, divorce, business litigation, etc.), providing the reader a comprehensive overview of the topic and giving them a good idea of what to expect with this type of case. This type of content is written with authority and demonstrates your depth of knowledge in a particular practice area.
Somewhere on the AOP page, you should also highlight your experience and credentials and emphasize your ability to effectively represent prospects who need this type of legal help. Talk about the years of experience you have, verdicts and settlements you have secured, the way you approach these types of cases, and any other factors that distinguish you from others.
One word of caution – be careful about your language on your web pages, blogs, and other forms of online content. ABA guidelines prohibit attorney websites from using terms like “expert”, “specialist”, or anything else that implies that you are superior to other attorneys. You can, however, use terms like “experienced”, “skilled”, and “knowledgeable.” With some thought and care, you can craft digital content that highlights your strengths without breaking any of the rules.
- Be Responsive
From the first time a prospect engages you, it is important to respond in a timely manner and continue to be responsive throughout the course of the client relationship. In the beginning, not responding quickly enough could cost you a potential client. Individuals who are looking for legal help typically narrow their choices down to a handful of attorneys and law firms that they decide to reach out to. And in many cases, the first one that gets back to them has an inside track toward earning their business. The best approach is to have a process in place that allows you or your office staff to connect with prospects quickly.
You should also have a commitment to get back to a client within a certain period of time. Even if you do not know the answer to their question, contact them anyway to let them know you are researching the issue and will get back to them as soon as you have an answer. Responsiveness goes a long way toward building trust with prospects and clients, so be sure to make this a high priority in your practice.
- Be Friendly
When a prospect or client contacts your office, greet them warmly, be kind to them, and give them your attention. A client needs to know that you care and that you empathize with their situation, and the last thing you want to do is make them feel like they are interrupting something else that’s “more important”. When you are with a prospect or client, the best rule of thumb is to treat them like they are the most important person in the world.
Lawyers are busy, and there are always times when you are interrupted while you are with someone. When this happens and there is something else you must attend to, be apologetic and let them know you will be back with them as soon as you can. You value your time, and in fact, it may be worth several hundred dollars per hour when you are working in your client’s case. Their time is valuable too, so always be respectful of it and do everything you can to give them your full attention.
- Set Proper Expectations
When you meet with a prospect about becoming a client, give them a good overview of the process and what they can expect if you end up taking their case. Make sure you give them realistic expectations and do not overpromise. People tend to feel much more at ease when they have a good idea ahead of time how a case is going to go, what will be required of them during the process, and the most likely outcome. Your client will appreciate knowing all of this, because it will help them mentally prepare for what is ahead.
- Show Them that You are on Their Side
We talked earlier about empathizing with your client’s situation. This should come through in all of your communications, and you should do everything possible to convince them that you will be their strongest advocate. At the end of the day, this is what will be most important to a client.
As the saying goes, “they don’t care what you know until they know that you care”. If your client knows that you are on their side and fighting hard for their rights and interests, they will give you their full loyalty and trust. And just as importantly – they will also be far more likely to give you the highly coveted referral business you will need to help accelerate the growth of your practice.
About Sundown Legal Marketing
Sundown Legal Marketing specializes in helping law firms review their current internet footprint, developing a comprehensive internet marketing plan and implementing every aspect of that plan. Contact us today for a free website evaluation and a no obligation assessment of your internet marketing plan. Call us today at (800) 864-1764 or online at Sundown Marketing.