Empathy, team and happy clients

Posted by Dave Seager, consulting adviser to Legal Futures Associate SIFA Professional

Seager: Does your website really talk to clients?

Although the majority of my working life has been spent in financial services, the last 16 have been dedicated to the interaction and overlap between legal and financial with SIFA Professional.

What has always been obvious is the need for collaboration between legal and financial professionals, for better client outcomes. However, what was less obvious to me initially but glaringly obvious in recent years are the obvious parallels between the legal and financial planning professions, and how much each can learn from the other.

This is something, I suspect, solicitors might not have believed back when they viewed financial advisers as commission-driven sales folk!

Both our industries have been altered by regulation. Whilst the retail distribution review hastened the move to professionalism and business transformation in financial services, the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s 2018 transparency rules, followed by the Standards and Regulations the year after, are beginning to usher in modernisation and fresh thinking for law firms.

The new regulatory broom, swept in by the Competition and Markets Authority, may still not have convinced every law firm yet, but those burying their heads are certainly fewer in number now than in 2019.

As regular readers of my monthly blog will know, I am a big advocate not only for embracing the transparency regime but going beyond it. Indeed, I wrote on the subject just last month.

But this is about far more than what is involved in core services, who will deliver them and their likely price; it is about whether a researching consumer, in need of a legal service, will find enough information about that service and importantly about your firm and its people to select you with confidence.

It is against this backdrop that I wanted to share a blog, written by a respected marketing consultant, who advises financial planning firms, but one that I feel should resonate with law firms seeking to attract new clients, as well.

I highly recommend you click here to read the Yardstick article but I wish to share its key message today.

The powerful truth, that we must all recognise, is that when people are searching for a financial planner or a solicitor, it will be because they have a trigger.

This will be a problem or issue they need solving or advise about or an aspiration or goal they wish to achieve.

So, when this researching individual finds your website, it must be the one that elicits the sense of relief that they have found precisely the firm or expert they have been seeking to help them.

The article contends, and I agree, that to do this your company website must include three things on the homepage and throughout the site:

Empathy: Don’t talk about products and services. Instead, replay their problem, challenge, aspiration or objective to them, show that you understand, and explain how you will help.

Your team: Showcase your team and allow potential clients to start getting to know the people they’ll develop relationships with.

Your existing clients: There’s nothing more powerful than people you already work with telling potential new clients about the benefits of working with you. Short testimonial videos are the best way to do this.

The majority of the 500 financial planner websites Yardstick researched failed to show these things even on their homepage – 74% failed to feature photos of the team and a staggering 94% did not showcase their happy clients.

Now, it is time for you, if you choose to do so, to have an honest look at your own site. Does it talk solely about who you are and what you do, or does it also reflect the type of people and customers you can assist?

The simplest way to do this quickly can be to have an ‘About you’ section on your homepage. Are you prominently featuring your wonderful team, with photos, work/qualification, and importantly personal biographies? Do you have a testimonial page showcasing a selection of satisfied clients, ensuring they cover a variety of services and problems solved?

I suggest that a researching consumer reading a positive testimonial from a person who has come to you with a similar issue to themselves, might find this more relevant than the Legal Services Board and SRA’s much-talked-about quality indicators.

I hope this offers some food for thought and, if any of this rings worryingly true for your firm, some quick wins. I would argue that this is what transparency should be about – self-promotion to the worried researching consumer.

I will leave you with an excellent quote in the article from Donald Miller in Building a StoryBrand that in turn inspired this blog: “The customer is the hero of the story, not your brand. When you position your customer as the hero and yourself as the guide, you shift the focus to how you can help them, which is ultimately what drives engagement and sales.”


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