We are facing unprecedented times, and coronavirus law firm office closures are complicated, but now is not the time to slow client communications or disrupt potential engagements. With so much happening virtually, it’s important to let clients and people searching for your firm know the ways that your availability has changed and how you can best be reached.
Most importantly, you don’t want to say anything resembling “our office is closed”. Unfortunately, that phrase can be the kiss of death for any kind of business. We’ve put together some best practices that can help law firms reassure clients while also encouraging new business and coming out more successful on the other side of the coronavirus office closures.
1. Focus on your “firm” being open.
Note, we didn’t say “office”, since your actual working space might be closed. Are your attorneys still billing hours? Then you are open for business.
2. We are ready to help you.
Let clients and potential clients both know that you are still dialed in, still available, and still offering support. This is a key message to get across early in any messages.
3. Mention current clients first.
Using language such as “To our current clients”, reassure them that you are still at their disposal. Let them know that any current work is undisrupted (to the extent that this is the truth), and you’re around to answer questions.
4. If you are accepting new clients, say so.
Although the coronavirus has forced your law firm’s physical office to close, if you are accepting new clients, don’t hesitate to say so. Say something like “Schedule a consultation to discover if our firm is the right one for you. We are ready to begin work when you are!”
5. Be explicit about the channels you’re using for work.
If you’re leveraging Zoom or other remote tools, set that expectation. Zoom is what many firms and other industries are using, so chances are, clients will be comfortable with it. You can also do conference calls or plain old phone calls. The important thing is to communicate these methods up front. Don’t leave people questioning how they can reach you or how you’ll communicate.
6. It’s OK to say you’re temporarily working from home.
Most people are, and it’s expected that you’ll say so. Leaving it out will seem disingenuous. We encourage you to say so last in any communications. Focus on the positive, such as: “We have made the decision to temporarily work from home versus the office during the Coronavirus crisis. This decision was made to protect our staff and our clients, and to do our part to prevent spread of the illness. Please know we are operating at full capacity and will continue to assist you in any way possible.”
7. Describe the ways people can contact you.
Keep it simple. Include phone numbers, emails, and hours of when members are your law firm can be reached during office closures due to the coronavirus
Now that you know what to say, where should you say it?
It’s important to consider every channel your law firm uses and create communications that are appropriate. We suggest updating your website, especially the home page, contact page, and any that list office locations. Particularly, take the time to update your law firm’s Google My Business (GMB) profile to highlight how you are adapting to restrictions due to COVID-19. GMB has even rolled out a brand new ‘post type’ that highlights COVID-19 related announcements in search results so that they can appear more prominently at the top of your GMB profile.
We also suggest sending a personalized email to your clients. You might even include inactive clients, as you never know when they might reach back out to you. If you create email newsletters, detail this messaging there, and if you ever send physical letters, this is great information to include. Finally, make sure the most critical components of the messaging are included in any automated functions like voicemail greetings, auto-attendant greetings, email footers, and email autoresponders.
Lastly, don’t forget to keep open communication with your employees or your team. Make it a point to communicate on a daily basis through video conferencing tools like Zoom or GoToMeeting. See: How to Overcome the Challenges of Managing a Virtual Law Firm.
Consider these efforts a marketing opportunity for your firm. The way that you present your law firm and your brand during the coronavirus office closures will shape the way clients see you. Create thoughtful and proactive messaging, and you’ll be taking steps to enhance future relationships.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to stay on top of the latest developments in legal digital marketing and learn best practices and tips to enhance your marketing and business development efforts at your firm.