How legal services marketers can help establish and keep trusting client relationships
Trust in business is eroding, and by connection, law firms. It’s not only from big compliance breaches or the recent Panama Papers leaks. Recently I spoke on building trust in client relationships to the Professional Services Marketing Group with a distinguished panel. This is an excerpt of the article published in PSMG Magazine Autumn 2016. Q: What's causing erosion of client trust in business, and by connection, law firms and accountancies?
Dance: The top issue affecting trust today is uncertainty, driven by our unstable global economy, volatile markets, geopolitical change and social activism. Regulators, financial and legal services providers increase the uncertainty with complex explanations. Another root of trust erosion is how people get information. Business clients worldwide most trust search engines for news. Globalization is the third root. Your global clients may be able to read or hear English, but don’t understand what you’re saying.
Q: What can professional services marketers do to counter trust erosion?
Dance: Law firms have lept forward with more transparent and predictable billing, a trust kingpin. In addition to asking questions and listening, marketers should focus on clear and simple. Complexity exasperates clients who lack time but must make issues clear for their stakeholders. It’s also very important to get the context right. Make sure your providers go the extra mile to truly understand the client’s current pressures and priorities.
Q: What do you suggest for building trust with international clients and prospects?
Dance: Trust is often built differently with global clients based on multiple points of contact rather than 1-to-1 relationships. There's less face-to-face interaction due to distance. Due to the remote nature and multiple players, trust can more quickly break down due to culture and language differences. Cue to marketers: tailor pitches and work product to avoid misunderstandings among your providers and their clients, whose native tongue, business approach and priorities may be different than yours. Find the areas of common understanding and focus on those. The best way to do this is to get input locally.
My fellow panelists for the PSMG session were Helena Samaha, Head of Legal, Lycamobile and Jill Warren, Director of Marketing & Business Development, Bird & Bird.