Updated: Dec 3, 2020
The lifecycle of a client shouldn’t end when a matter or legal case is complete. In fact, client retention and repeat business should be a goal of any legal business relationship, and at the forefront of every client interaction. Long-term business opportunities can pay off with future dividends for your law firm. While some services are short-lived or one time, positive customer service and effective client communication lead to other fruitful benefits such as referrals, professional introductions, and unexpected repeat business down the line. If you want your customers to have a positive experience, you have to invest in it-- in fact, 62% of companies will now invest to meet the changing needs of customers.
Effective client communication is an important factor of customer service. Here are some necessary, but undervalued practices, that can help your law firm, create brand awareness and top-of-mind referrals by providing outstanding legal client services:
1. Confirm that data for your clients are not only accurate but kept up-to-date: One of the most disastrous occurrences for intake or client communication during the matter is a “failure to deliver” email because of a bad email address or an inaccurate phone number on record. Having an intake system where clients are responsible to submit this information, and having a matter management system where contact details are stored in one place on the matter, helps ensure accuracy. A post-it note can easily be lost or mislead, so putting the details from the source of the client-side is a method to drastically reduce clerical errors. It is also important that this information is checked every so often, as cell phone numbers or email addresses regularly change.
2. Establish a client portal: This will ensure that your law firm will not only serve incoming and new business, but provide on-demand legal services like online bill payments, legal appointment scheduling, legal document sharing and signing through LawConnect, and more-- 24/7 and in one place. This takes the burden off of your law office staff, you as the fee-earner, and even from the client having to wonder where and when they can access your law firm.
3. Check-in often, and keep clients updated: Legal clients cannot be kept in the dark. While there is a fine line between effective communication and over-communication, consumers appreciate the “check-in” or at least a place where they can know what is going on, fast. Matter management, with features such as FaceTime and Zoom integration, legal client portal, document collaboration/management, and a legal mobile app, allow firms to provide service to their clients fast and effectively.
4. Establish communication across multiple checkpoints: Legal clients consume and interact with law firms across many different channels and this can include “traditional” communication like email, phone calls, or in-office appointments. However, based on people’s personal preferences, current pandemic trends and thus their experience with law office technology, it is imperative law firms communicate with clients across a variety of platforms. PWC found that the number of companies investing in the omnichannel experience has jumped from 20% to more than 80%. Other forms of communication that are not commonly used include SMS texting, an 24/7 online client web portal, secure document sharing platforms like LawConnect, and more. SMS texting, relying on item #1 listed above, should be used sparingly, but are a great way to communicate important messages fast. For example, sending payment reminders through RapidPay and the LEAP Web Portal can be used as a follow up to your emailed or postal mail invoice.
5. Embrace the digital age and employ legal technology to communicate: Establishing new methods and investing in new opportunities will prevent your firm from becoming stagnant. Potential clients become savvy when they need to-- evident in the recent pandemic and this even applies to the fact that business practices were forced to change as well. The “11 Habits of Highly Successful Law Firms” by Richard Hugo-Hamman, discusses not only the need but the urgency to update your firm for the digital age; read more here. The last thing you want is to lose out on business not because you couldn’t handle it, but because they couldn’t find you on the internet, your contact information was incorrect, or this process isn’t automated.
Using these methods above, your law firm can improve not only their client communication but also their market presence as an innovative and adaptive firm. Your law firm can grow and have room to expand if you wish. Keeping up with and identifying market trends is usually seen as a luxury, but law firm communication is a necessary part of legal operations.