5. Add value in nontraditional ways. It is important to remember that clients are people, too. Like all of us, they have professional goals and personal needs beyond the legal matters you are handling. Getting to know the individuals with whom you regularly interact can uncover a wealth of opportunities to add value for them personally, including opportunities to help them shine in the eyes of their superiors and teammates.
One of the nontraditional ways an attorney recently added value for a client was by assisting one of its employees with landing a role at the firm after the employee was unable to relocate to continue her position with the client. This went a long way with the client and was also a win-win for the firm, which gained the employee’s insights into the client’s internal processes and practices as a result of hiring the employee.
Best practice tip: When it comes to adding value for clients, think broadly and outside the box. At its core, strengthening client relationships is about making a client’s life easier and showing that you care, and this can occur in a variety of ways. Great clients take care of their people, and client feedback increasingly shows that clients expect their outside law firms to also treat their people well—from the administrative assistant to the legal and business executives. Look for opportunities to help solve problems affecting both the business and its people. Ask your individual client contacts about their performance goals, bandwidth gaps, how they are evaluated and how you can help them meet their performance targets.
6. Offer limited services at no cost. Applying a loss leader strategy can provide clients with limited, but meaningful, work product and pave the way for additional work opportunities for you and the firm. One attorney applied this approach by introducing a client to a colleague who specializes in contract lifecycle management (CLM) to discuss CLM in the context of the client’s processes and culture. The colleague suggested specific steps the client could take to gain more value from its CLM vendor and provided a brief assessment of the client’s CLM system at no cost. Soon after this gesture, the client reached out to the attorney to inquire about the firm’s capabilities in several additional areas, which ultimately resulted in four new engagements that were handled by additional firm colleagues.
Best practice tip: Attorneys see the most success with business development when they focus on understanding the client’s problems in the context of the client’s culture and when they seek opportunities to collaborate with colleagues. Identify client needs that are important but that you may not be able to resolve yourself, and then connect the client with colleagues who can.
7. Ask clients about additional opportunities to add value. A discussion of value should be a staple in every client conversation. According to the Wicker Park Group, a consulting firm focused on client service, 94% of client feedback interviewees brought up the concept of adding value as a determining factor in outside counsel selection in 2020—an increase of 20% in the last decade. Don’t miss the opportunity to ask your clients how they define value, then deliver accordingly. Our clients have cited invitations to meaningful events and partnering to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals as important value-adds, which we have been able to deliver on quickly and meaningfully.
Best practice tip: When a client gives you specific suggestions for adding value, implement them immediately. It’s an easy lift to add client contacts to the firm’s database so they begin receiving invitations to events and thought leadership. Also look for unique events that align with the client’s business, industry and values, and extend invitations to those events. Leverage the firm’s DEI resources to partner with clients on diversity-focused internships, mentoring and other initiatives.
A touchpoints strategy begins with a thorough understanding of the client, its people, processes, products, customers and the context in which they all operate. This understanding allows identification of key client touchpoints where your law firm expertise and resources can provide value. This kind of focused, personalized client activity becomes the basis for strong, trust-based, reciprocal client relationships, which in turn power a firm’s prosperity.