This post was contributed by Joyce Brafford, Licensed Attorney & Legal Technology Consultant. Joyce will be presenting in our upcoming webinar, “The 5 Tools You Should be Using to Communicate with Clients Today,” on May 23. Register for the webinar here.
Hey, you! Over there, hiding behind your computer screen, trying to avoid returning 15 voicemails. I’ll let you in on a secret—you are NOT alone.
In fact, most lawyers will admit to avoiding a client or two. But, did you know that failure to communicate with clients is one of the most common complaints to state bars? The irony is that regular communication could alleviate many common ethics complaints—from bills being inaccurate to failing to adequately represent clients. It all stems from a failure to communicate and not understanding what the other party needs.
What’s more, regular communication is a way to make your firm more profitable.
I’ll wait while you pick yourself up from the floor.
Your time is limited. Most lawyers are only able to spend less than 2 hours a day on billable activities; so how are you expected to fit more tasks into an already busy schedule? The answer is simple—use tools that automate, simplify, and streamline your communication process. Spend your time on the actions with the highest value while increasing client satisfaction.
Consider tools that remove the burden of initial responses to prospective clients. There are dozens of solutions that allow potential clients to interact with your website that require nothing from your staff. Rather than spending time answering questions about practice areas, pricing, or timing, spend your time on high-value tasks. And let other people in your office do the same.
Don’t waste time listening to and returning voicemails. Invest in tools that change voice to text, and send canned responses to common questions, like “Mrs. Jones. I wanted to reach out to let you know that there has been no change in your legal matter this week. I’ll update you with any changes as soon as I can.” If you send that response on a Friday morning to every matter that is in a holding pattern, you will significantly cut down on the phone calls your legal assistant is fielding.
Use online tools that allow you to collect critical information and documents from your clients without having to chase down emails. You can use secure document sharing tools with automatic reminders for clients who haven’t submitted the information or signature you’ve requested.
Importantly, use tools that provide accurate, immediate responses via automated systems. By giving your current clients the ability to be heard and get the answers they need, you ensure they are getting the best client service. And in the most cynical terms, they will likely come to your firm for future needs and recommend their friends do the same. In the immediate future, clients with whom you regularly speak are more likely to pay on time.
Your role as counselor and attorney is about more than providing legal advice. It’s the privilege of sharing a burden and giving someone a path to a more prosperous future. Don’t let the easy task of answering questions become so heavy a burden that you lose your gratitude for your clients.
If you want specifics on how to automate and streamline client communication, join me for a webinar on May 23.