We’re not going to beat around the bush because we care about you. But the following is pretty alarming and it’s important to know.
The number one bar complaint is lack of communication.
When you type ‘my lawyer’ into google, one of the first search items to pops up is ‘my lawyer is not communicating with me’.
So, what do you think your clients are saying about you behind your back?
“My attorney is the worst communicator, I have no clue what’s going on with my case!”
“My attorney never answers my call, and when he does, he’s not even friendly.”
“I could never recommend an attorney who’s impossible to reach. I’m spending too much money to have no clue what’s going on with my case.”
Those aren’t real quotes, but they sure could be. Take some time to check out other attorneys’ reviews to see if similar statements stand out to you.
Filevine shares some hard-hitting figures, “When the American Bar Association released their Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims 2008-2011, the numbers spoke for themselves. Only 10% of malpractice claims came from poor application of the law, with the remaining claims resulting from poor communications. That’s roughly 90% of legal malpractice stemming from poor communication – let that sink in”.
So why can’t attorneys communicate with their clients? And what does good client communication look like?
Here are 7 ways to improve your client’s experience with your law firm:
1. Start off strong.
Before you even get that first call, your potential clients are already evaluating you. If a potential client finds their way to your website and doesn’t see the information they’re looking for, they’ll move on to the next search result. Know what information potential clients are looking for, and make sure it’s prominently featured on your website.
2. Set and meet expectations.
Clients are always calling to get updates on their cases. The situation they are in could be the most stressful time in their life. If your client is sitting by the phone each day waiting for your call and not knowing when it might come, that’s a sign of poor communication.
Let your client know when they will hear from you! If you’re waiting on paperwork to come in, let your client know that you will be in touch with them next Friday for an update. When they get that simple email on Friday stating that you’re still waiting on that paperwork, they’ll know what’s going on. They knew when they would hear from you, and they knew the status of their case when they did.
You may think of an update being needed when something happens, but your client will go crazy waiting and not knowing. An update to your client is regular communication even if it’s just to say, “No news yet.”
3. Use layman’s terms!
What sounds like communication to you might not sound like communication to your client. Legal terminology and technical language are second nature to you, but it’s likely that your client won’t be able to absorb the information that they need. This leaves them walking away with little new information and possibly increased confusion surrounding their case. When so many terms get thrown into the conversation, your client might feel their intelligence is being brought into question if they need to stop and ask you what each one means.
You might feel like you’re wasting time explaining simple things, but your clients will be willing to spend more time with an attorney who they can understand.
4. Hire a virtual receptionist.
It’s important that you are easy to get a hold of. One of the greatest challenges of practicing law is keeping up with client contact. You can’t sacrifice other aspects of your work to be available for each phone call… but voicemail can quickly kill a client’s experience. For current clients, there is nothing worse than leaving messages and having to call again (and maybe leave another message) to see if their message was received.
Positive communication and client experience should begin on the phone. To do that, friendly and knowledgeable receptionists are a must. When a potential client calls, they experience your law firm’s communication for the first time. There is no one better to leave a good first impression than someone who specializes in doing so. Keep in mind, nothing is better at leaving a bad first impression than callers reaching your voicemail.
5. Care about your clients.
Your clients are likely experiencing a pretty rough time… they need to know that you care about their case, and frankly, about them. Be empathetic. It’s just another day in the life for you, but it could be the worst day in their life for them. This can be as simple as getting in the habit of using a person’s name three times when you’re speaking with them on the phoneto show that you’re truly listening.
Aside from the most important thing (getting results), clients want to feel taken care of. They want to know their attorney will really take care of them and won’t add to their stress. When you ensure you’re doing this, your clients will be quick to refer you to others.
6. Streamline the experience.
Simplicity is the most important aspect here.
Develop a simplified intake process that can be used consistently ensuring nothing gets missed or will require unnecessary additional effort. Make sure your website is clear and easy to navigate. Let your clients know the best way to contact you so that you will actually receive the message.
One of the most important factors in whether or not a client will refer you to a friend is how easy the process was for them.
7. Get feedback.
The best way to know how you can improve is to get information from the source. Law firms vary, and you will likely have a few things specific to your firm that you can change or alter to improve client experience. Clio shares some advice on getting good feedback from clients.
If this post resonated with you and you’re interested in improving your law firm’s client experience, request a call with our Growth Solutions Strategist. They will help you come up with a plan specific to your law firm’s needs.