Having advocates for your firm, services, and people is extremely powerful. Positive Word-of-Mouth (WOM) is a highly effective and low cost way to generate new business for your professional services firm.
Our Winning Work in a Digital World research results indicated that word-of-mouth or personal relationships were the second-highest source of new business enquiries for firms, after referral networks.
Creating positive WOM will put your firm ahead of your competition, and it’s not that hard to do. As Seth Godin neatly stated on his blog, ‘the opportunity is to actually create something that people choose to talk about, regardless of what the competition is doing.’
We’ve written before about the need for professional services firms to differentiate their service offering in order to attract clients. While this remains true, in reality there are likely to be a lot of firms just like yours, against whom you’re competing. So how can you elevate your offering to be remarkable enough to generate positive WOM and develop new business?
Here are simple ways to add a little value to your clients, increase satisfaction, and get them talking about you:
Proactively look for ways to help your clients with their business
Whatever professional services your firm provides (legal, accounting, financial services), you have intimate knowledge of your clients’ operations, processes, and people, and the opportunity to provide advice, recommendations and guidance to them. The key is to be helpful and constructive, and not forceful or overly critical.
Understand that your client’s time is precious
Make doing business with you as effortless as possible. Some ideas to get you started:
- establish – and respect – your client’s preferred time and method (mobile, office number, email) to be contacted
- give key clients your mobile number for direct and out-of-office access
- respond to client emails immediately, or at most within the same business day
- minimise touch points by asking for information in one tranche, where possible
- help your clients get organised by providing useful checklists and reminders for key dates
- educate your clients on how to work most effectively with you – for example, provide clients with a service charter, and new client welcome pack.
Ask your clients who they want to get in front of
Your client’s targets may be people you have existing connections with, and can offer introductions to. For no monetary cost, you can do your clients a favour and get in their good books. Conveniently, this also opens the door for you to ask for the same in return.
Stay in touch
After a client meeting, use your calendar to schedule a reminder for the next catch-up so you have a prompt to touch base. You don’t always have to connect face-to-face – consider emailing your client an interesting and relevant article or resource (something they will appreciate or value). Make your “touch bases” no longer than 2 to 3 months apart, so that even if you don’t have an active project on the go, you don’t forget to maintain the relationship.
Keep them satisfied
Send out carefully crafted client satisfaction surveys, during and after a major project. Don’t be afraid of negative feedback – consider it an opportunity to improve your business.
Being remarkable is not as difficult as it might sound. You don’t need to be the best firm, just invest a little bit of time in looking for opportunities to add value and increase your clients’ satisfaction.
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