Dave Seager of SIFA Professional outlines five steps you can take to reboot your firm’s website and attract new clients, in light of the SRA’s Transparency Rules.
In an ideal world, the SRA’s Transparency Rules, introduced last December, would have been grasped by the profession as an opportunity to reboot the way in which each law firm presents itself to potential clients.
If we accept that the reasoning behind the Transparency Rules was borne of consumer frustration in researching legal services and how much they are likely to cost, then surely to ignore the changes, or do merely the minimum to satisfy the rules, would be senseless?
However, the first phase of website sweeps by the regulator, concluding six months after the rules came into force, revealed that 25% of the 500 firms surveyed had done nothing to comply with the legislation. If we take this as a fair reflection of the situation across SRA-regulated firms, that means that over 2,600 firms have ignored rules introduced for their own good. Only 25% of the websites looked at by the SRA had satisfied all the rules, with 50% having some way still to go.
Here are some tips to ensure your revamped website becomes a ‘shop window’ that entices new customers:
1. Embrace the transparency guidelines on all the services you offer, and not solely those listed in the SRA Rules.
A potential buyer of legal services is researching the market. When it comes to residential conveyancing, they come to your website and see full details on what is involved; who will deliver the service; and the likely costs.
But what happens if that person is also getting married, say, and thinking about signing a pre-nup? If they then decide to research your family law service and find substantially less detail on your website, what message are you sending?
2. Use plain language and avoid legal jargon, where possible.
If you feel the need to use legal terminology, at least provide a non-jargon explanation. Recognise that successful competitors such as Co-op Legal have stolen a march in recent years; using plain language has been crucial to its success in attracting customers to a new service.
3. Create biographies of the staff within the firm who are likely to be in contact with the client, through all stages of any given process.
This is imperative.
The fuller the bio, the better – this builds the consumer’s confidence and helps ‘personalise’ their experience of your firm from the first time they visit your website. And while professional qualifications, accreditations and experience can help further to build confidence in the delivery of your legal services, personal details on family and interests can instil a sense of trust and empathy in advance of the potential client coming into your office.
It’s not just solicitors – you should also include support staff working alongside them, to ensure the potential client knows there is a team working on their behalf.
4. Start a blog.
This can serve two purposes:
- it will help with the ‘personalisation’ piece, if key individuals are writing occasional blogs / articles on your firm, its culture and services
- blogs are a superb way to demonstrate your knowledge, competence and professionalism.
Once you have established the blog, use social media, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, to push the content out to the market and bring any interested parties to your website.
5. Make sure your potential customers or clients researching your firm on your website can tell that as a business, you recognise that legal services often need to be part of an advice package.
Individuals often have a set of problems or needs that need solving or addressing in a way that requires complimentary professional advice. As a firm, you need to be clearly acting in the client’s best interests, and that will often require a referral to another professional, such as a financial planner or an accountant. Therefore, in each section of your website, make it clear that where required, your firm works with well-qualified and trusted third parties when complementary advice is needed.
This is your chance to steal a march on your competitors, update your website to differentiate yourselves from the others, and get ahead of the game. The better your shop window, the more likely it is that new customer will come in to your shop.
Dave Seager is managing director of SIFA Professional, which provides business and marketing support to impartial independent financial advisers who work with solicitors. SIFA Professional is an endorsed partner of the Law Society. For more information, visit our Membership Extra page.
SIFA Professional is sponsoring the Small Law Firm of the Year award at the Law Society Excellence Awards 2019.