Taylor Swift is my favorite client relationship genius.
That may seem a bit strange, but when you drill down into the brilliant marketing and business development machine that she is, you’ll agree that there are a few things that Taylor does that create rabid loyalty among her fans – and I mean rabid.
Before you start asking what Tay-tay and her music have to do with the law, first, ask yourself what it would feel like to have your clients feel the same way about you as Taylor’s fans feel about her? What if your clients trusted you so implicitly that they never took their business to anyone else? What if they called you first before making a business decision, because you’re their trusted adviser? What if your clients lined up every time you wrote or spoke, because they knew what you had to say was that valuable?
While I don’t picture your clients lining the streets of your offices and swooning at the mere sight of you anytime soon (though the image of that does bring a smile to my face), there are a few things that Taylor does REALLY well that you can adapt to your own business to help drive client loyalty.
Taylor Connects With Her Client Base
One of the things that makes Taylor so successful is that all of her fans believe she’s “one of them.” She’s managed to develop this charming, self-deprecating sense that draws people to her – those in her target demographic of tweens, teens and twenty-somethings. She incredibly famous. successful, and very wealthy, and yet somehow, she makes you believe that she’d be the perfect person to share a conversation with over coffee. She understands her fan (or client) base so deeply, that every move she makes shows not only how much she “gets” them, but also that she wants to give them what they want (and in many cases, what they didn’t even know they wanted).
Let’s look at her last album launch as an example. When she debuted 1989, she took to the internet to find serious fans who had not yet had a chance to meet her or attend a concert, etc. She then invited those fans to what she calls the “1989 Secret Sessions” – listening parties at one of her homes, where she baked treats, chatted with fans as if they were friends, played her new album, and invited them to play with her new kitten, Olivia Benson.
She literally invited hundreds of people she didn’t know (except for the online research she’d done) into her home to hang out with her and eat homemade rice krispie treats while chatting with her mom. Taylor excels at disabusing everyone of the notion that she’s some famous celebrity by acting like the girl next door. The fans that got to participate will never forget the experience – they’re going to be her fans for life, and spread the message about her to everyone they can think of. And those who didn’t get to participate can dream that maybe one day, they’ll be chosen to do the same – and that keeps them coming back as well.
What does this have to do with being lawyers? I’m reminded of a line from Fawlty Towers, when the phone rings, and John Cleese answers, saying “Yes, what is it? I’m terribly busy and important.”
How many of us feel that way these days? We’re SO busy and SO important that we don’t have time for anyone or anything. We’re doing legal work for our clients – isn’t that enough, without them bothering us all the time??
No, it’s really not.
We need to think like Taylor – to remember that the only reason we sit where we are is because of our clients. Yes, we all put in hard work and spent long hours being educated in our areas of specialty – but Taylor Swift ALSO puts in long hours of hard work writing songs, performing on tour, recording her albums, etc. And she still manages to keep the focus on her fans and finding new and unique ways to connect with them.
How can Lawyers be like Taylor?
- Always be thinking about your client – and I don’t just mean their legal work. We’ve said time and time again that being smart and talented is what gets you to the table. What sets you apart is going to be your level of service, and that means focusing on what your clients want. Taylor is always thinking about what’s going to make her fans happy, and how she can connect with them better. As legal professionals, we can all be doing exactly the same thing – ask yourself today: “What is going to make my clients happier?” “How can I connect better with my clients?” This will be different for each client, so even if you pick one client each week to wow, imagine the difference you’ll make?
- Listen to yourself the next time you answer the phone – do you sound frazzled or harried? Already impatient with the person on the other end? Consider taking a breath before you first say hello and imagining that each call (from suppliers and sales pitches right up through the next top client you may have) is a potential client. Treat everyone with kindness, and you’ll create fans – you never know where your next piece of work or referral will come from, so offer the same treatment to everyone. And if you’re really that busy that you can’t take the time, hire an assistant who can deal with your call for you and whittle them down to the truly essential ones.
- This is the same virtually too – how do you respond to emails? Are you sending out messages without a greeting? It takes literally seconds to say “Dear [name], I hope this email finds you well,” or something to that effect. Yes, our 24/7 connectivity has created a sense of urgency surrounding all communications these days, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a moment for pleasantries – if you think no one notices, I can tell you that they do. A little common courtesy goes a LONG way in creating good will about yourself with others.
- Think outside of the box – there are things that you do socially outside of your professional life, and they may be a good opportunity to invite a client. Look at Taylor’s 1989 Secret Sessions – what if you invited a client to your home for a meal? Perhaps your golf club is having a tournament, and you invite a client to join you, or your child’s school is putting on an evening fundraiser that a client might like to support. Don’t be so “busy and important” that you forget to get to know each other better. This won’t be right for every type of law, or every client, but don’t immediately write it off before thinking about how it could apply in your world.
- Be Like Taylor: Take a page from Taylor’s playbook, and create your own 1989 sessions – I’m not talking about inviting your clients over for rice krispie treats at your house, but consider what she did here – she took a random sampling of her client base, researched them online using their social media profiles, and did a deep dive on who they are, what they like, and what would make them happy. She then put together an event that generated buzz among those clients, as well as all of her other clients. You could absolutely replicate that by digging deep into your own client base, identifying their needs and wants, whether any of them overlap, whether there are process improvements you could make to your work that would improve client satisfaction for all of your clients, whether there are additional services you could offer that would be of interest to all your clients, etc. It will improve your relationships with those individual clients, but will also have additional ramifications for your entire client base.
In our next post, we’ll look at what else lawyers can learn from Taylor’s client management skills. In the meantime, consider how you can better connect with your client base this week to further develop your relationships and create more rabid loyalty among your own clients.