Client care is important for all businesses, and even more important for law firms. Clients are often facing challenging life circumstances when they reach out to a solicitor. The last thing they need to deal with is unreturned calls, or having to repeat sensitive and personal information to different people.
According to a benchmark study, less than 10% of people who call a law firm get to speak to a solicitor and 42% of the time, potential clients had to wait for 3 or more days to receive a reply to their voicemail or web form enquiry. That’s not good at all: in the age of total mobility and instant communication, clients aren’t likely to wait for days to hear back from you, they’d rather turn to another law firm that cares about their time.
Perfect your intake process
One of the most challenging aspects of client service is the intake process. From having that first contact with clients to having them sign a retainer, there’s a lot of scope for things to go wrong and for them to lose faith in you. Clients are paying money to hire someone to take care of situations that involve delving into their personal issues, and hopefully winning them the rights to something they believe they deserve.
Clients need to see and feel that your firm is organised, and that their requests are handled in a timely manner.
Follow these four simple steps to make sure your intake process goes smoothly.
Make sure you know what phase each client is at
Divide and conquer by keeping tabs on the phase of client engagement. For example, if they made a first call and need to be called back, make a note of that. If the next step is for them to sign a retainer, write that on their file. That way you can communicate efficiently and confidently with them because you know what the next step is
Use standardized templates for the common cases your firm handles
This eliminates reinventing the wheel every time you take in a new client
Make sure the staff know all the ins and outs of your firm’s policies
You don’t want the client to have any unpleasant surprises down the road or put yourself at risk of malpractice claims. Train your employees to provide the right information, have frequent training days, and update your team on policy changes as they arise
Many things can be done online these days, including signing a retainer. Automate this process by enabling clients to use e-signing. Waiting around for a client to show up and sign a document in person can really stall things. By enabling e-signing, you eliminate this problem.
Use text for updates
One of the most frustrating aspects for clients is waiting around for their solicitor to call with an update. Clients often complain that their solicitors don’t keep them updated enough. Of course, you’re busy, but the client needs to know the progress of their case and what, if anything, they need to prepare for next.
Texting can be a life-saver in this regard. If you don’t have time to chase down a client for a voice call, sending an update via text can save you time and make sure the client is in the know. Text messaging is also great for sending out appointment reminders so you don’t have highly paid legal staff waiting around for no-shows.
For example, 1stCitizen Lawyers adopted texting for their client communication and saw the improved efficiency at their law office: “We have experienced increased client retention, satisfaction and attendance for appointments, saving time and effort that would have otherwise been spent on making phone calls.”
Use your emotional intelligence
Always remember that clients are often coming to you when they are going through an emotionally charged situation - a divorce, a criminal charge, an inheritance due to the death of a loved one, unfair treatment at work. You may be seeing this person at their worst, so make sure that you (and your administrative staff) are skilled and sympathetic listeners who know how to comfort clients without escalating their already frayed nerves.
Your office environment also matters - make sure it’s welcoming and showcasing why your clients can trust you. For example, soundproof meeting rooms can give peace of mind to the clients who need to discuss personal matters and share their sensitive information with your solicitors. Anticipate the possible triggers of unstable emotional conditions. When you’re dealing with bereavements, photos of happy families and lovers aren’t the best choice to decorate the walls.
Offering excellent client care will help grow your firm’s business and reputation. Improving your intake processes, using emotional intelligence to handle clients, and embracing the use of text for updates and appointment reminders can all enhance your firm’s client care.
Views expressed in our blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Law Society.
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