Whether you’re looking to build your law firm or preserve your excellent reputation, you’ll want to prioritize client communication. Your clients, after all, represent a critical part of your practice.
So consider the following. These are just some of the reasons to embrace strong communication:
In the legal field, reputation is everything. Lawyers can strengthen their firm’s standing by communicating consistently, warmly, and professionally with clients. And with almost 90% of businesses competing based on customer experience, the right approach will definitely help your firm stand out.
Did you know that improving your communication can help boost your earnings? Businesses that provide a positive client experience bill up to 8% more than their competition. This is because strong communication makes it easier to retain existing clients, attract new ones, and justify a higher rate.
Frequent client communication can help lower lawyers’ risk of malpractice claims and ethics violations. More importantly, it can prevent the client from making poor or uninformed decisions. Above all else, law firms must make sure their lawyers share information freely and protect their client relationships.
A clear and informative website, a seamless intake process, and general openness and responsiveness to feedback can go a long way in improving your customer experience.
We’ve discussed the benefits of communication. Now let’s talk about how law firms should communicate with clients. Consider the best practices outlined below:
To avoid disappointing clients, law firms should make it abundantly clear when their lawyers will be available for communication, how often they’ll be available, and what communication channels clients can use. It’s important to set the standard early to avoid frustration down the road.
The 2018 Legal Trends Report found that almost 60% of clients want their lawyers to be accessible after business hours—yet nearly 40% of lawyers claim that this level of communication has a negative effect on their work-life balance. Setting upfront expectations can make all the difference here.
Active listening should be a top priority across your law firm. Rather than listening in order to respond to the client, lawyers should listen to understand them. Clarifying questions can help lawyers build empathy, address the client’s worries, and cultivate a stronger relationship.
To become better listeners, lawyers should avoid interrupting the client at all costs. Additionally, they might slow down a little bit—maybe take a deep breath—and refrain from rehearsing their answers while the client is talking. Taking the time to truly understand what motivates the client is key.
Typically, plain language is a whole lot more appealing to clients than legal jargon. Encourage the lawyers at your firm to speak clearly when possible. This will involve breaking down complex information into simple concepts, and inviting clients to ask questions when needed.
To take matters further, lawyers should make a point of communicating preemptively to avoid confusion down the road. For instance, after every meeting, they might send the client summaries of their conversation via secure message—complete with a list of resources and next steps.
While automation is huge where tedious or repetitive processes are concerned, law firms should be mindful of what they automate from a communication standpoint. Personal, detailed, or specific communications are best left to your lawyers rather than a computer.
But this doesn’t mean automation can’t be a game-changer in some areas. For example, new-client welcome emails, scheduling updates, and invoices are all perfectly fine to automate. Done in the right ways, automation can free your lawyers up to focus on more critical aspects of the business.
Offering a range of communication channels is another solid way for law firms to accommodate their clients’ needs. The following section will outline some of the channels you might consider.
How should your lawyers communicate with clients? In addition to phone calls, these are just some of the digital channels many firms are using today:
Email communication is an efficient way to keep clients informed (and make sure they have all the information they need available in writing). Outlook and Gmail both offer add-ons that log all communications to the right case.
Many clients like to text—yet many lawyers prefer not to share their personal number. Fortunately, there are several solutions on the market that allow lawyers to send and receive texts messages from their firm’s existing business line.
The 2020 Legal Trends Report revealed that 83% of lawyers are now meeting with clients via video conferencing platforms. While these platforms offer unprecedented convenience, firms should make sure they choose solutions that protect the client’s confidentiality.
Secure client portals are an efficient way to send documents, invoices, and other proprietary details. Lawyers tend to appreciate these solutions’ ease of use, while clients value how simple these portals make accessing their case information.
Whether you have someone in-house or use a third-party phone service, a receptionist can absolutely streamline your client communication. Many firms appreciate having staff readily available to answer client questions and deliver excellent service.
To stay competitive, law firms must recognize the true value of client communication.