According to Jeff Williford, a Disney Institute speaker at the recent Legal Marketing Association Conference in Orlando, "what time is the 3:00 parade?" is the second most asked question in the Disney World theme park.
Does this seem ridiculous to you? It certainly seems obvious that the 3:00 parade would begin at 3:00. But Jeff says that Disney cast members are taught to look at the question behind the question. A harried mom might be asking this question to really determine, "can I get my princess to the bathroom and back before the real Princesses arrive?" A father might be asking "how long do I have to contain my wiggly toddler before the parade passes in front of us?"
Looking at the question behind the question allows cast members to provide helpful information to the Disney guest, thereby making their experience a more positive one which ultimately results in return visits and referrals.
If return visits and referrals are something you are interested in as a lawyer and business owner, how can you use this Disney practice to create your own magic?
Step one is to listen to your clients. Not just to hear their words, but to listen to the message behind them. When your client complains about not being able to reach you by phone, they may be complaining about their perception that you aren't working on their case. If they complain about your hourly rate, they may be stressed that this process is going to cost more than they imagined (and budgeted for) AND that the end result is not going to give them the resolution they desire. When you can understand their underlying anxieties, you can then move to step two, which is to give voice to their complaints by having a serious conversation with your client about expectations.
It is important for lawyers to manage their clients' expectations. Every client feels their case is worth a ton of money and can be resolved overnight. Managing client expectations means you frequently communicate about how long the process will take, what is happening during negotiations and you are working to meet their goals.
Step three is to provide quality. You can measure quality in a variety of ways. Did you get the result the client hoped for? Was the price fair and within the budget you discussed at the outset? Did you handle the case in a reasonable time period? Your client's perception of quality may be different from yours, but theirs is the only perception that matters if you want to retain the client and get referrals.
Another measure of quality is often convenience. Do you provide adequate parking? Do you make information available to your client through forms, checklists and status reports that keep them updated? Do you or your staff return telephone calls or emails timely so when the client needs information it is readily available?
A recent article written by the business consulting company, Change Factory, reported that a 5% increase in client retention will increase profits by 25 - 125% and that acquiring new customers can cost five times more than satisfying and retaining current customers.
These numbers show why Disney is not trying to convince my best friend to go to Disney. Joan has never been and she's not interested. Disney can't spend enough advertising dollars to develop the ad that will encourage her to take a trip to the Magic Kingdom. However, my friend Stephanie is a repeat customer. Every new ride and every new show she wants her children to experience. She has been almost yearly since her kids were born ten years ago.
Many lawyers get excited about the thoughts of landing a new client, often at the expense of tending to the clients they have. This study shows that your time is better spent on retaining clients. Look for ways to offer additional services to your current clients. Make sure that it is easy for your current clients to refer their friends and family by providing them with excellent service. You may not need to tell your clients what time the 3:00 parade starts, but make sure that your clients have all the information they need to be satisfied customers.
About the Author
Camille Stell is President of Lawyers Mutual Consulting and Services, offering succession planning, business development coaching, keynote presentations and more. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.662.8843.