Immigration law is a unique legal practice because it can serve businesses and individuals and sometimes walk the line between criminal and civil. With money and freedoms around where to live and work all potentially at risk, clients put a lot of trust in immigration law attorneys.
While knowledge and experience are important qualities clients want in an immigration law attorney, the relationship clients have with their attorney is also important. Confiding in a stranger and putting your fate into their hands is never easy. Clients will value that relationship if that stranger is a reassuring, communicative, and trustworthy attorney.
Likewise, creating strong attorney-client relationships is a significant business development tactic for immigration law practitioners, as positive relationships yield repeat business and referrals.
Relationship marketing is about client satisfaction: The happier a client is with an immigration attorney’s service, the more likely he or she will return or recommend the attorney to friends, colleagues, loved ones, and even strangers on the Internet.
Seven Steps to Relationship Marketing
Get Client Feedback: As noted above, relationship marketing is based on great client service. Collecting and analyzing client feedback is a key first step to finding strengths to capitalize on — and opportunities to improve. Even clients who don’t get the outcome they want in their matter may still view their legal service favorably.
Create a Personal Brand: If strong client relationships are a priority to you, then say so. When creating a personal brand, evaluate why relationships are important to you and how you cultivate them. Use this self-feedback to create an elevator pitch. Perhaps you’re from a family of immigrants and saw first-hand how immigration attorneys helped your family feel safe and secure in their new home. You could say: “After seeing how caring my family’s immigration attorney was at a time when so much was at stake, I wanted to provide the same kind of service to others in need.”
Content: Writing articles and blog posts and sharing them on social media and in marketing emails has many benefits for both attorneys and their clients. In the relationship-building context, providing helpful, valuable information lets former, current, and potential clients know you are watching out for them. It also lets them know they can trust you to keep them in the know should change in law impact their circumstances. Meanwhile, each time you share your expertise, you are keeping yourself top-of-mind so that, if asked for a referral, you will be thought of first.
Use Technology: There are many types of software and technology platforms that streamline the attorney-client experience. From a portal where clients can easily upload documents and monitor their cases to an automated email and text reminders, technology can foster seamless interactions that clients appreciate. Internally, law firms can use technology like client relationship management (CRM) software to track client communications, preferences, billing, and more. Case management software streamlines internal processes, which translates to a better client experience. The more an attorney can easily stay abreast of clients and their matters the better service they can provide.
Join Groups: Making connections with people who could potentially use your service, or with the people who associate with them, is a great relationship marketing strategy. Join online or in-person groups to meet people. For example, volunteer for an immigrants’ rights group. While providing pro bono services to clients, the group’s leaders will get to know and trust you and will refer more complex matters your way when they arise. If joining an online group, like LinkedIn groups, look for a national group of immigration law attorneys. By engaging in the conversation, group members will learn who you are and see your knowledgeable contributions. Should a matter come up outside their service area or expertise, they will think of you as a referral.
Be Nice: Seems simple, but being nice is the single most effective and easiest way to build strong, lasting client relationships. Show compassion and understanding to clients who may be scared or confused. Kindness should be a priority for everyone at the firm who interacts with clients, from the receptionist to the attorneys. Being nice includes providing clear communications and meeting client expectations, too. Remember that immigrants often settle together in close-knit communities, so an immigration attorney who is responsive and diligent with a couple clients from that community can easily enjoy more work from the group as their name is passed from family to family.
Measure: Track and analyze client data to see where relationship marketing is working and what areas can be improved. Be sure to collect information about how a client learned of you. Look at website analytics to see what content interests people and provide more like it. Some firms even track how long it takes to return a client’s call and how many follow-up communications the client receives while the matter is pending and after it’s complete.
The better the service, the stronger the relationship. While a good attorney-client relationship should just be a goal no matter what, understanding the impact these relationships can have on business development and growth should motivate all immigration law attorneys to look for ways to create meaningful, beneficial connections with clients. See how Scorpion can help immigration law firms and others build strong relationships.