Blog by Julian Summerhayes. 741 words.
Frequently Asked Questions (in case you are wondering) can be a wonderful device to drive lead generation and conversion i.e. more paying clients to your door.
Every practice area, even the most obscure, will have a set of standard issues – legal, procedural or commercial – that practically every client will wish to explore with you either in person, by telephone or by email. Unless you are newly qualified or practising in a new area, you can predict, with an increasing degree of accuracy, exactly what they are going to ask.
In the case of a civil litigation matter (my previous bag) it would focus on:
1. The background of the firm;
2. Our/my notable success stories;
3. Our strength in depth;
4. The costs/benefit of proceeding with a claim;
5. Generic advice on the process;
6. The timescale(s); and
7. A consideration of the outcome(s).
Your practice area will have a similar path.
If you like Mind Mapping (as I do), then it is about time that you detailed each type of case because, if nothing else, it will enable you to look more carefully at your website and decide if your area is suitable for FAQs. Apart from anything else, FAQs save a lot of (precious) time and help to manage expectations.
One thing to bear in mind is that you need to make it clear exactly what you capabilities are, instead of padding things out for the sake of the story. Either you are equipped to deal with the case or not. Far too often people decide that the best strategy is to play to the ‘Everyone’ market place, whereas what they should be focused on is matching their values, aims and aspirations to their (ideal) client profile.
Even the thorny subject of costs should not be left off the list: If you know that for a standard matter it is going to cost so much (leaving to one side the issue of on-line legal services), then don’t stand on ceremony. Say so. Nothing pisses a client off like the sucking of lemons:
“Every case is different and we couldn’t possibly say how much it will cost.”
Clients are not stupid. Even if you have to give them a ball park figure with the usual caveats then do so. I still don’t understand why firms seem incapable of pinning their colours to the mast and saying how much a typical case is likely to cost. It’s not as if they don’t have a track record!
FAQs are not a substitute for speaking to people but they at least show you have thought about what your prospective clients are most likely to be interested in.
When it comes to their format, don’t just stick with the written, verbose word. Mash it up with audio, video and slides. If you are feeling ambitious you might even like to try Prezi, which is the new (cloud based) kid on the block for presentations. And don’t just think that you have to provide your content. What about interviewing clients? They often provide with weight of reassurance that your ego based writing lacks.
Too few websites have thoughtful FAQs and if you take anything away from this post, then you should consider every practice area, and perhaps every person’s profile as suitable. You must have a call to action, and it may well be that having a series of “what ifs” wrapped around your FAQs will be the missing ingredient in getting your putative client to commit to picking up the phone.
One final point.
You look to your left, then to your right and then …..?
It is down to you to deal with your portion of the firm’s website. Yes, you might be lucky enough to have a BD, marketing or IT department but it is your future that is at stake more than theirs. Even if you do not have the technical proficiency to upload the material that does not stop you from performing your part of the bargain. It won’t take long, and you may end up saving yourself a great deal of time and produce better qualified clients.
If you get stuck then ask a few clients what they think would be helpful. This doesn’t just apply to your uber commercial clients.
And even in-house counsel might want to consider FAQs internally but not in an attempt to deflect (more) attention but rather as a way of driving clearer thinking amongst the most dependent of internal users.