Client turnover is a major stumbling block in the legal industry. But keeping existing clients – and keeping them happy – is one of the most powerful ways to boost a firm’s bottom line. Research from Bain and Company shows that a 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profits by up to 95 percent.
Attorneys looking for the secret weapon in client retention should think about upping their client gifting strategy.
Though the holiday gifting frenzy has just ended, year-round gifting can be a far more impactful client retention tool. A gift gives attorneys an occasion to connect with existing clients on a meaningful level and deepen their loyalty. One catch: you’ll have to think beyond the fruit basket.
Here’s how to choose a gift that resonates with your clients – and how to use that gift as an opportunity to move your relationship forward in the new year.
Add a Personal Touch
Research from Harvard Business Review confirms that when someone in a professional services role leaves their organization, they often take a number of that organization’s clients with them. In other words, people tend to be loyal to people, not firms.
If you want to boost client retention, you’ll need to make clients feel individually valued by your firm. A gift is an opportunity to give personalized attention to your clients on your firm’s behalf.
One of the most effective ways to do that is also one of the least expensive. When you send a gift, include a handwritten note with a personal message. Have those who work with this client sign the note, or maybe attach a firmwide photo. This will guarantee that the gift feels both personalized and touched by everyone at your firm.
If you’re sending different gifts to different clients, tailor them to each client’s preferences – especially for clients who invest the most in your firm.
Finally, sending a gift after the holidays is an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and leave a lasting impression. Pick a more unconventional occasion, or one that is specific to your client. The more unexpected it is, the more delightful it will be for the recipient.
This could be a partnership anniversary or contract renewal; a client milestone, such as a promotion; or a personal event, such as a birthday or wedding. Or try a non-peak holiday, such as New Year’s or Thanksgiving, or a holiday with personal resonance, such as Veteran’s Day for a client who has served in the military.
Choose a Gift That Demonstrates Your Firm’s Values
Gift giving is an excellent way to showcase your firm’s core values.
Gifts that support environmental and social causes resonate with clients of all ages, but especially millennial clients: the largest group in the workforce cares deeply about corporate social responsibility, and they want to see those values represented by the firms that serve them.
A gift that does good is both delightful and impactful. This might be granola made by women who are survivors of abuse, wine stoppers hand-blown by teens impacted by gun violence, or artisan towels from a company that gives its proceeds to marine conservation organizations.
You can also consider making a donation in your client’s name to an organization that has meaning for both your firm and your client. Be sure to include a note explaining why you chose that particular organization and how it aligns with your values – this will ensure an impactful experience rather than a passive donation.
Use Your Gift as a Client Communication Tool
Effective legal service hinges on strong and prompt client communication. That should happen year round, of course, but sending a gift is an opportunity to connect with your client beyond what’s expected. It’s also an opportunity to listen to their needs so you can figure out how you can best serve them.
Use this chance to schedule a follow-up call or email to your clients after sending a gift. Ask for feedback on your services (especially if you don’t already have a formalized client feedback program) or set up a time to meet about how they’d like to structure your relationship in the new year. Pick up the phone and start talking.
You can also think of a gift as a way to show your gratitude for a client’s referral – and opportunity to ask if they know someone else who might need your services. Or you can thank your client for a year of working together as they consider whether to renew their contract for the next year.
Give the Gift of a Rewarding Partnership
The client lifecycle doesn’t end once a client signs with your firm. You need to continuously reaffirm why your client chose to work with you, which you do already through thoughtful responses, careful advice, and support during uncertain times.
You show your clients the value you provide through the work you do. But a gift is an unexpected gesture that demonstrates how your firm goes above and beyond to serve its clients.
As you develop your client retention strategy for this year, see where you can weave meaningful gifting into your firm’s relationships into the years to come.