The professional services sector — which includes law firms — is people-centric and relationship-driven. The rapid changes to relationships, both professional and personal, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are structural and deep. One result for firms is that they need to adapt their client communications to respond to the new ways clients and others behave, communicate, and buy and use legal services. The speed at which information travels will not slow down.
Combatting Communications Overload
Content fatigue is a real thing in good times and in bad. But it is even more so during a pandemic when content comes in a deluge of offerings — emails, webinars, social posts, podcasts — on topics that are similar or indistinguishable from the client’s perspective. Also, when communications are not delivered in a format that clients prefer, they end up in the trash. Numerous posts on LinkedIn and Twitter confirm this.
It’s Time to Think About Some Upgrades to Your Client Communications
Here are a few tips to make sure your communications are well received by clients and other recipients.
Convert spoken content into written content (and vice versa)
Have a system to routinely convert spoken content into writing so you can repurpose it. Converting spoken content into written articles and posts lets you reach more people —including clients and prospects who may prefer to consume information by reading versus hearing it. Record remarks you make in live presentations, webinars and podcasts, then transcribe them for use on your blog, in email alerts or on social media. Firms that do not repurpose their content across formats waste valuable nonbillable time and effort — and miss the part of the market that prefers to get new information in one form instead of the other.
Focus your posts on client-centric information
Most professional service providers do not use LinkedIn or other social sites optimally. For example, most mainly post firm-centric information about firm events, webinars, lawyer speaking roles, or similar news. From the client’s perspective, while that may be marginally helpful, what’s really in it for them? Rarely do we see posts that summarize key takeaways from the presentations lawyers give, or highlight useful things to consider in articles they’ve written. Nor do most posts include relevant or compelling calls to action.
Rethink posting PDFs
Another mistake is posting client alerts or other information as PDF files on LinkedIn. Lengthy PDF documents are not easy to read on LinkedIn. And downloading them requires precious time that readers do not necessarily have. Few use the capability to download alerts and white papers from social media with one or a few clicks.
Review email alerts from the client’s perspective
Mass emails should succinctly digest helpful information and suggest ways you can assist in finding a solution, now or in the future. Especially consider how the content of the email will affect the client. Before sending, read it from the client’s perspective. If appropriate, consider asking a client or two to review it and suggest edits before you send it. The best emails usually offer valuable yet complementary services or practical, immediately usable tools or solutions. Some even offer apps.
Use a communications checklist
From now on, try reviewing each communication by asking yourself (and others) these questions:
- What’s the impact of this information on the client’s business/from the client’s perspective?
- What is of most use or interest to the reader in this communication?
- What is the exact value that the information delivers to the client/audience?
- Is the content written in an executive summary or bullet-style form? Is it easy to digest?
- Can the reader quickly discern the substance of this email from the subject line? Also, if the firm name is already reflected in the sender’s email address, does it need to appear in the subject line too?
Overall, you should consider each communication from the client’s perspective. Is the information contained in it helpful, useful or otherwise valuable? If so, how so? Continue to adapt your communications to their perspective to keep your client relationships healthy.
This article is adapted from Julie Savarino’s new book, “Survive & Thrive Post-Pandemic: A Guidebook for Legal & Professional Services Providers,” now available on Amazon. Note: 20% of the net proceeds from this book will be donated to Global Giving, an international charity.
More on Attorney at Work
- “30-Day Business Development Plan for Lawyers During the COVID-19 Crisis,” by Jay Harrington
- “Continuity of Care: Tips for Reassuring Clients You’re Prepared for the COVID-19 Crisis” by Susan Kostal
- “How to Strengthen Your Practice and Increase Resilience Amid Disruption” by Heather Moulder
- “Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers,” 2nd Edition by Gina F. Rubel
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