How to Connect With Legal Clients When Meeting Digitally
Lawyers need to work hard to connect with their clients. Better client relationships lead to more manageable cases, more referrals, and a path to a better, more thriving business. If you’re meeting in person, you can give a firm handshake, make eye contact, and give other passive signals of positivity to build your bond.
But how do you connect with someone when you’re interacting with them through a screen?
Use a Variety of Mediums
There are many different mediums you can use to communicate with your clients, each of which has advantages and disadvantages. If you want to make the best impression and use the right medium for every cause, it's important to use a variety of different mediums.
You may have a personal preference for one channel or the other, but you'll need all of them at your disposal if you always want to communicate effectively.
These channels include:
- Email. Written emails are great when you need to have a record of your interactions or when you're explaining something simple. But if you need to have a conversation about something, establishing a true dialogue, email isn't always the best platform.
- Phone calls. Phone calls are slightly more intimate than email, and they offered you the ability to have a direct conversation. They also tend to be more time consuming, and unless you're recording, you're not going to have a record of the exchange. You also don't have access to body language, the way you do with video chats.
- Video chats. Many digital meetings are now held in the form of video chats, because of the inherent advantages they present. It's the closest thing we have to face-to-face interactions without actually having to meet face to face. However, it does have some disadvantages.
Compensate for Video Meeting Weaknesses
Video chatting is the go-to for many lawyers trying to forge better connections with their clients, and for good reason. It allows for a reasonable dialogue and gives you the ability to see each other's facial expressions and body language. But if you want to make the most of this medium, it's important to find a way to compensate for video meeting weaknesses.
These are some of the best ways to do it:
- Upgrade your internet and software. Video chats often get disrupted because one participant has a bad internet connection or they're using software that doesn't work very well. You may not have control over your client's internet connection or technological access, but you can control your own technology. Make sure you've upgraded your internet to have plenty of bandwidth to accommodate many video meetings at once, and shop around for the best video chat software you can find.
- Guide clients through initial setup. Not all your clients are going to be technologically familiar or savvy enough to set up their own video chat app. If you expect them to use your firm's software, it's a good idea to plan on guiding them through the setup process. Detailed instructions and helpful guidance will make your clients feel more comfortable and make the meeting a success.
- Be mindful of delays. Even if you're geographically close to your client, you may face hiccups and delays when you're chatting over video. It's important to be mindful of these delays so that you avoid interrupting or talking over your client unnecessarily.
- Allow plenty of time to respond. Along similar lines, it's important to allow your client plenty of time to respond to your prompts. With video chatting, it's reasonable to allow more gaps in conversation than you ordinarily would and provide plenty of time for each party to say what they want to say.
- Mute when not speaking. This is an unwritten rule of etiquette when video chatting. Keeping your audio on mute when you're not speaking will help filter out any background noise that would otherwise form a distraction for your client or compromise the quality of your conversation.
Connect on Social Media
Though not a total necessity, it's often beneficial to connect with your clients on social media. Depending on the nature of your relationship, that could mean directly connecting on a professional platform like LinkedIn, or simply directing your client to follow your firm’s page on Facebook.
Either way, this is an opportunity for further interactions and more brand familiarity. You can provide your client with more content in the work you publish on social media. You can reach out occasionally for birthdays and special occasions. You can also just grow your network this way.
Create Drip Email Campaigns
Encourage your clients to sign up for your firm’s client email list, then create content to distribute to that list of subscribers. This content can come in many forms, and it will be effective, so long as it is some combination of informative and entertaining. Depending on the nature of your firm and your typical clients, content could include things like educational materials, recommendations, giveaways, or highlights related to your firm's latest cases.
Send Thank-You Notes and Appreciation Gifts
Make it a point to send thank you messages and appreciation gifts to your best clients. These don't have to be very time-consuming or expensive, especially if you've met digitally almost exclusively up until this point. A simple email with a specific appreciation message or a digital gift card could be exactly what you need to solidify an existing client relationship.
Use Surveys to Collect Feedback
Finally, just as you would with your in-person clients, use surveys to collect feedback. What do clients like about your digital setups? What could be improved in the future?
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