Enhancing the customer experience through technology
Jonathan Ashley discusses how technology can play a key role in enhancing every client’s experience of working with your law firm.
When it comes to providing professional legal advice and support, you are the experts.
When it comes to IT infrastructure and software however, many providers are often guilty of offering information to law firms about how technology can be used to build strategy.
The problem is they usually miss out one of the firm’s key business development requirements: the ability to build client confidence resulting in referrals, direct recommendations and repeat business.
Questioning technology’s role
From our ongoing research and work in the UK legal industry, we consistently see that the key deliverables for most law firms revolve around having a solid IT infrastructure in place – software that enhances their staff’s ability to service the customer, whilst maintaining data governance surrounding where documents are stored, processed and accessed.
The role of technology in bringing each of these deliverables together in one seamless process is either misunderstood or simply ignored. Remember those legaltech gaps we’ve previously discussed?
Irrespective of whether you use the latest in AI technology or do things in a more manual way, when it comes to collating, retrieving and utilising information, the basic structure and overlying service to support this hasn’t really changed.
Undeniably, technology can play a key role in enhancing every client’s experience of working with your law firm; the pandemic has only served to highlight this.
What’s more, the good news is that this technology is not complicated (or expensive) to implement.
Ensuring a positive engagement process
Think about what your job entails again: providing expert legal advice.
The only way you can do that is by having every piece of information you need to succeed on behalf of your client at your fingertips, as and when you need it.
Success may well be measured in how many clients you have on your books. More than likely, you have to access data for multiple clients every day as well as creating files for new clients.
Meeting (and talking to) a set number clients in one day might be a specific KPI for your firm. In order to successfully have those meetings and conversations, you first need to gather information in a way that is both highly secure and customer friendly.
This is usually organised via phone, email or a pre-prepared online form.
Once all the prerequisite information is received, specific cases are assigned to the respective legal professional and work can commence.
But how do you go about ensuring a positive engagement process throughout the lifespan of the case? How do you further improve and enhance the relationship?
How do you make it as quick and easy as possible for both client and firm, ensuring that all parties are supremely confident about the way that personal (and often confidential) data is being transmitted, stored and accessed?
Add in the cybersecurity challenge
Building a supreme level of confidence in communications can often become a challenge, because many clients simply won’t have the same levels of cybersecurity as a law firm does.
Invariably, they will be using iCloud, Gmail or Hotmail to send emails; unfortunately, each of those platforms is open to abuse.
As such, the question remains: what is your firm’s end-to-end strategy for creating confidence and achieving the very highest level of understanding and positive experience through consistent secure engagement?
You’re probably not entirely sure but you will almost certainly be able to cite specifics.
The fact of the matter is that all of these things need to happen with no one even thinking about them. It must be a totally seamless process that is straightforward and uncomplicated.
A positive engagement experience is what every firm strives for. And when you reach that point, you’re on your own. It’s then down to your skill set to exceed your client’s expectations.
But, for all this to happen, you need an agile infrastructure.
An agile infrastructure will underpin all the security requirements on which you can build and link with your software suppliers.
A decent hosted platform will deliver numerous benefits, and should also involve the provision of cybersecurity to ensure your firm surpasses the National Cyber Security Centre’s ‘10 steps to cybersecurity’.
It should also excel when it comes to service levels and perform seamlessly, hand in hand with your operations, by smoothing out any legaltech gaps.
Ultimately, it’s your IT service provider’s role to ensure that you can focus on running your law firm without ever having to worry about IT again.
When that happens (by utilising client-facing technology), your clients will experience the same level of confidence and their overall experience will be five-star.
Consider an independent company that has zero hidden agenda or suppliers to please. They should be able to work with your existing suppliers and introduce you to new ones who can enhance your firm throughout.
Their focus must be on helping your clients to have a really positive experience every time.
Jonathan Ashley is founder and director of etiCloud, affiliate partner of The Law Society. etiCloud are already delivering flexibility through their Agile Digital Workplace for over 200 UK law firms in the SME market. Jonathan has a wide range of industry experience working in both the UK and Canada.