Every lawyer needs a solid system for on-boarding new clients.
The system should help your new clients feel great about hiring you and comfortable about the prospect of working with you (and your staff).
Do you have an engagement agreement that you present to all your new clients? That’s great.
Do you rely mostly on that agreement to help new clients understand what to expect when they work with you? Not so great.
Your clients need to feel special at all times, particularly when they are just getting to know you. Of course, you could spend lots of one-on-one time with each new client answering their questions and putting their minds at ease. But that would take up lots of your valuable time.
The other option is to create an “on-boarding system” that makes new clients feel special without you having to spend too much time with them. Or, if one of your staff is dealing with this, then you’ll free up their valuable time.
Yes, creating this on-boarding system will take up some of your valuable time. But, once you’ve set it up (and refined it), you’ll be amazed at how much easier your client on-boarding process will be.
Plus your clients will be enchanted as well. Happier clients require less attention and are more motivated to refer you to their friends and acquaintances.
Your competitors are probably too lazy to set up a top-notch on-boarding system, so you’ll have an unfair advantage over them in getting new business.
So how do you start crafting this client on-boarding system?
First, take a look at your current engagement agreement, and make a note of all of the issues you address in that agreement. Let’s say you have the following issues listed: hourly rate (listing for each attorney or paralegal who will work on the case); retainer payment; scope of representation, expected conduct by client etc.
Each one of those issues is something that you’ll want to cover with the client in separate communications. So, for example, you’d have one email go out to the client to explain your hourly billing rate, along with the typical questions that come up when clients get their first bill.
The email you craft will be written in simple, easy to understand prose. You’ll provide helpful examples of a typical description in a bill, along with some idea of how long common tasks might take.
Any client who gets this email will be impressed. And they’ll be less likely to call to ask questions (which would take up time on your part, or your staff members).
This email, once crafted and refined, is something you can use over and over again. You’ll send it automatically to every new client, but you’ll have it available in case some client (who either didn’t read the email or forgot what it said) asks questions about their bill.
In other words, the email is not just an email. It’s an asset that you can use over and over again to make your clients feel special, while simultaneously protecting your valuable time.
Plus, the email serves as a blueprint that can help your staff (especially new hires) know what they’re supposed to tell clients who call in with billing questions.
Think of the on-boarding system as one that addresses each and every frequently asked question that clients have. Or every concern that they have, even if they don’t express it explicitly.
A lot of clients wonder about things that you might be surprised by.
For example, they might wonder how often they’ll hear from you after they engage you. Or maybe they wonder who else will be working on their case, and when they’ll be hearing from those other folks.
Clients are often too intimidated to admit they feel awkward. So they’ll really appreciate it if you help them feel less intimidated and less awkward.
When you answer all of the questions your new clients have (or might have), then you start to look like an attorney whose really on the ball.
You don’t have to personally answer every question. All you have to do is create a system that does that for you. And the best part? You can even automate a lot of the messaging that goes out to your new clients.
But the first step is to realize the power of having a defined system for on-boarding new clients. Developing each step in the process can happen slowly or quickly, depending on your needs or available time.
If you want to take it to a higher level you can even create videos that show you answering those common questions. But don’t shoot for the moon at first.
Just start developing a system for making new clients feel comfortable working with you. Refine it as you go.
See what other lawyers who have an on-boarding system are doing.
Hopefully, none of them are your competitors.