Julie Savarino, MBA, JD, is no stranger to building and maintaining relationships within the legal community. A best-selling author and licensed attorney, Julie is one of the highest-rated speakers, trainers and coaches in the industry and currently serves as chief client services and development officer for Business Development Inc. SurePoint had the privilege of being accompanied by Julie as part of our Virtual Office Webinar series where she shared her expert insight on ways to best navigate in our current state, and how to strengthen and maintain client relationships during periods of uncertainty. Below are some best practices for client relations and communications during uncertain times:

Focus on what’s most important – you!
It is crucial that we are all taking extra care of ourselves and our loved ones during this time. If you aren’t taking steps to ensure that you are your best self, it’s impossible to provide your clients with the exceptional service they deserve and have learned to expect. Take care of yourself as a human being first. Professionally, schedule some time each week to write down and prioritize projects and client outreach initiatives, and to establish a list of professional resources with whom you should engage. Connecting with current and former clients who you enjoy working with will reenergize you and your work and provide you with a sense of productivity.

Now is also a great time to reflect on your career and professional goals. Have you ever taken a personality assessment? If not, you may want to check out one of the many assessment tests available as a way to discover your personal strengths and weaknesses. These results will help you to identify areas in which you are successful in communicating with your clients and colleagues, and to allow you make adjustments as needed in other areas with opportunities for improvement.

Consider the client’s perspective – be a resource, not a sales pitch.
Despite our best efforts to operate at our normal pace, business is not as usual right now. The stress levels of attorneys and legal professionals are exponentially higher during this time, and it is important to be mindful of when, what and how we are communicating. Five things to consider before reaching out to your clients include:

  • Your clients are experiencing information overload and they’re less-than-thrilled about it. Make sure that when you are contacting them, you have a clear purpose for reaching out (even if that purpose is to say “hi” and to check in to see how they’re doing) and you aren’t contacting/emailing them more than what is necessary.
  • When you do reach out to your clients, make sure that you present your information in a way that is easy-to-digest and useable. Format your content in concise executive summaries, or as bullet point lists or charts. Presenting them with short yet valuable snippets of information allows them to quickly review the content and pass onto their colleagues who may find the information useful.
  • Don’t use this crisis as an opportunity to sell your service or product.
  • Assess your client development process and leverage technology to enhance your relationships and to stay informed of your clients’ needs. Strive to be useful, helpful and knowledgeable to your clients, and to provide them with options that they may not have known existed or thought of before for improving remote operations.
  • Remember why your clients hired you. They’ve come to you because they have trust and confidence in you as a professional. Make sure you are continuing to build and maintain their trust and confidence by engaging with them; actively listening to what they’re saying; restating or summarizing their words to reinforce active listening and to better understand their needs; and follow through on the things you say you’re going to do. Julie shared a powerful quote with the attendees, “The power goes to who listens, not who argues or tries to persuade.”

Initiate tailored outreach with a humanistic approach.
Now more than ever, it is important that you show your clients that you’re more than just an attorney or other legal professional – you’re also a human. During every communication, ask three questions: How are you doing? Is there anything that you, your family, or your organization needs? How can I help?

Avoid contributing to content fatigue.
Clients don’t want content, they want answers. In addition to keeping your communications clear and concise, it is imperative that you review every piece of content before it is distributed. At all costs, avoid initiating an email by leading with your firm name or by referencing COVID-19. Instead, start by identifying a pain point or business issue and discuss how you plan to solve the problem. For example, Julie shared that taking an industry and role-based approach or developing a risk assessment or FAQ tool would be more compelling than simply reporting out on the latest news.

Leverage your content – translate spoken words into a written format.
When most people hear the word “content”, they primarily think of a formal press release or a blog post focused on one specific topic. While these are great avenues for distributing ideas and facts, there are other ways to develop useful content for individual or mass distribution. For example, if your law firm hosts a webinar or podcast, tape the firm’s remarks or use a transcription app. Then, take the content that was verbally discussed and translate it into writing to be distributed through your firm’s website or in email outreach. For example, did your CEO just give a presentation on ways to best leverage your law firm’s ERP solution? Great – now review the deck and extract 3 – 5 key takeaways to share on your company’s LinkedIn page. These are simple yet effective ways to make the most of your content, remain top-of-mind for your clients, and to position your firm as proactive thought leaders within the community.

Julie Savarino’s full presentation can be found here.

An exclusive offer for readers of SurePoint’s blog!
The first 50 readers who email Julie Savarino at julie@busdevinc.com by 6 pm EDT Friday, June 19, 2020 will receive her new, highly-rated book “Survive and Thrive Post-Pandemic: A Guidebook for Legal and Professional Services Providers” as an eBook for free – a $60 value!