As much as you want to deny it, your birthday is a special day for you. It brings an extra smile when a friend remembers your birthday and while you don’t want anyone to know, a surprise birthday party is one day you’ll never forget. Birthdays are one day that you circle in your mind’s calendar whether you’re celebrating your 25th or 75th…and your clients feel exactly the same way.
For almost all lawyers, their clients’ birthday is just a number on the calendar—the day comes and goes without any recognition. For the slightly more ambitious, some lawyers will post the perfunctory birthday wishes on Facebook and a few might even mail a birthday card through www.SendOutCards.com. Even the slightest effort to say “happy birthday” will elevate you above every other lawyer, but there’s a simpler way that will shock your clients: A PHONE CALL.
A Personal Touch that Your Clients Will Never Forget
Ask your secretary to compile a list of the birthdays of your current and former clients and ask her to send you a reminder on your cell phone or calendar on the morning of each birthday along with the client’s cell #. When you arrive at work, the first thing you do is call your client to wish her a happy birthday. If your client doesn’t answer (80% won’t), you leave a voice message with a birthday wish, or better yet, you sing Happy Birthday. That’s it—your work is done!
Your client will NEVER FORGET that you remembered her birthday. A phone call takes just seconds of your time and leaves an indelible impression that you care. Every year you reinforce this message with another birthday phone call, and your client is stunned by your thoughtfulness. You are a very different kind of lawyer.
Just remember, every lawyer sends holiday cards. Your holiday card gets lost with the hundreds of holiday cards that your clients get and does nothing to help your firm stand out. Unlike a holiday card, a birthday phone call is very personal that no other lawyers are doing and instantly separates you from the crowd of your peers.
Build Equity with Your Clients
Get creative by taking photos of your clients whenever you have a chance (I take photos when our clients pick up their settlement check). When a birthday arrives, send an email with the photo attached with a short message, “Thinking of you on this special day”. Even better, send a personalized message, “I know you love jazz. Hope you get a chance to see some great jazz tonight!”
Remember, it doesn’t have to be a birthday to reach out to your clients. Have your secretary create a list of your clients’ anniversaries and call them to celebrate their anniversary with them (hell, their own kids probably won’t remember to do this).
“80% of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch.”
–Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone
Have your secretary call your clients once every 6-8 weeks just to say “hi”. The impromptu phone call goes something like this, “Just wanted to reach out to say ‘hi’ and let you know we’re thinking of you.” Simple? Sure, but this gesture shows you’re thinking of your clients.
Pursue “WOW” in Everything You Do
Take a client to lunch once a month. You and a couple members of your staff sit down over a meal just to chat—there’s nothing better for building the relationship with your client. Your client sees—maybe for the first time—that they’re not just a number to you. Even better, your staff gets to see for themselves the impact that their works has had on changing your clients’ lives. After the meal, send your thanks with a few photos to your clients via email.
Take photos of you and your clients and with their permission, post them on your law firm’s Facebook fan page, i.e., “Great catching up with good friends”. Others will see that you’re a different kind of lawyer who treats your clients as part of your extended family.
Take this one step further with an annual client appreciation party. Invite your current and former clients to a party/dinner once a year, i.e., “Blues Cruise on the Hudson River”; there’s only one rule for these get-togethers: have fun. In this casual environment, the bond with your clients will grow stronger and they will begin thinking of you as more than just a lawyer. This alone will set you apart from every other lawyer in your town.