How can lawyers remotely handle remote client interaction?
Client satisfaction is a top priority, no matter where you’re working from. For law firms who want to keep their clients happy, even if they can’t see them face to face, it’s helpful to have policies in place for every point of contact.
Intake and consultations
If you want to keep your law firm going, you’ll need to bring on new clients. But very few people are going to hire a lawyer without getting to speak to them first. To create as much of a relationship and connection as you can without a face-to-face meeting, implement virtual consultations through a tool like Zoom or GoToMeeting.
Clearly state on your website that the firm is offering them as well. If it’s unclear whether or not the office is open or what the process looks like for getting started, a potential client may go to another firm’s website.
For general intake, you can still go through the same process. Consistent, clear communication, even if done by email throughout the intake process and gathering of information, can reassure clients and create a positive impression.
Remote doesn’t mean no communication. In fact, it may be even more important to have ongoing communication in order to sustain the same sense of confidence in a client about their representation.
Even if there is nothing happening in a case due to court closures or general holds, schedule updates to be sent out on a regular basis. As there are case or court changes, sending out notices about those as well will let your client know you’re thinking about them and actively working on their case just the same as if you were working from the office.
Client portals can also go a long way toward making sure everyone is in the loop about what’s happening. Secure client portals give 24/7 access to documents, notes and messages while also providing a way to securely send communication. The end result is a sense of transparency and peace of mind.
Remote work often leads to more digital and paperless processes. For billing, it could be worth seeing if you can deliver invoices electronically. Many billing programs allow you to batch send invoices, sending them right to your clients’ inboxes with the click of a button.
Not only does this cut down on the time it takes to send them, it also reduces the amount of paper and physical items the firm has to deal with.
If your firm normally sends out paper invoices, reach out to clients to let them know about the procedure change and to gather or verify an appropriate email address for them.
Similar to billing, receiving payments is best done electronically in order to eliminate receiving paper checks. When working remotely, that means that the firm’s address may not be the location at which the billing and accounting are taking place. Rather than have to go collect the checks and then deposit them (and make the appropriate accounting records), clients should be able to pay online through ACH or credit card.
When choosing a credit card merchant, be sure to choose one that is familiar with the legal-specific requirements that come along with law firms and trust accounts.
Many invoicing programs let you include these options right on the electronic copy. This means clients get the invoice in their email, then can click to pay right from there. This simplifies the process for both you and the client, which in turn offers additional value to the client.