At CIM, we always seek to have clarity about a client’s target audience(s) and ensure that referrals are being solicited proactively and routinely. We have a law firm client who had built his business in large part due to referrals. These referrals came from a number of channels, including past clients and other attorneys. The question arose, what more could we do to fuel the referral pipeline?
We took inventory of everything currently being done (or not done). How are referrers thanked upon referring? What are you doing to maintain top-of-mind awareness amongst your referrers? Are you literally asking for referrals from clients and other attorneys (as well as other audiences)? Once armed with answers to those questions, we learned the client had set processes in place for some efforts, but others were spotty and had room for improvement or expansion.
We developed an overall strategy that encompassed two angles: Thanking referrers appropriately, and asking for referrals routinely.
Thanking referrers: We made sure the client had a system in place to log every single referral that came in, and associate that referral with a specific individual or entity. Specific protocols were implemented to automatically send hand-written thank you notes and (sometimes) a gift to show appreciation. A number of referrers equated to frequent flier status, that is, they routinely and often referred. Working with the client, we developed an entire process to maintain records so we could send different “levels” of thankfulness to these most appreciated referrers. Perhaps the pinnacle of the project was creating a “referral stars” program to thank several dozen referrers every quarter for their especially generous number of referrals. This touchpoint consists of an especially unique gift and a message from the firm founder.
Asking for referrals: The client serves hundreds of clients each month, so the numbers are staggering to think about how many referrals could be garnered simply by asking happy clients. We developed a rack card asking for referrals that is shown during case-closed meetings. All newsletters, emails and marketing pieces have a call to action to refer. The attorneys and staff are trained to ask for referrals at strategic points during a case. Clients are provided with information and tools to post a review (a QR code link for seamless posting). In addition, we developed a series of quarterly newsletters to professional referrer audiences to establish the firm as a trusted, go-to resource for their clients.
After such an intense and ongoing focus on further building the firm via referrals, the firm has been able to further increase its percentage of new clients coming as referrals. The firm has also noted that referred potential clients tend to be a better fit than non-referred individuals.
NOTE: All of these efforts (outreach and thank you gifts) were done in strict accordance with Nevada State Bar rules.