Meeting Legal Client Expectations Should Be Easy, Right?
February 8, 2024
In today's fast-paced legal landscape, meeting client expectations is paramount for any law firm looking to thrive. With the rise of online legal services and increasing client demands for seamless communication and efficient service, it's time for law firms to embrace the concept of the "Easy Button" in their practices. Inspired by a well-known office supply campaign, this approach emphasizes making things easy for clients through technology and streamlined processes.
The central feature of the campaign was the idea of having an "Easy Button." The concept was that the company made things easy for its customers. The same should apply to legal services and client communication: use technology to simplify business, making it easy for your clients to do business with you and allowing you to do business with more clients.
When it comes to clients’ expectations of their lawyers regarding their technological proficiency and communication, there is a serious gap. What clients expect and want from their lawyers often radically differs from what many lawyers think clients expect and want. The result is that lawyers simply aren't making their clients as happy as possible. The failure to meet these expectations inevitably breeds a lack of trust in the lawyer, which, in turn, leads to fewer referrals and positive online reviews.
Client expectations regarding technological proficiency and communication often differ drastically from what many lawyers assume. Failure to meet this expectation not only leads to dissatisfied clients but also diminishes trust, resulting in fewer referrals and positive reviews. As Chelsey Lambert, Smokeball VP of Partnerships, highlights:
“Meeting your clients’ expectations requires non-billable work, so these activities that nurture happy clients must be positioned as part of your end goal. Happy customers lead to referrals. Your customers’ experience is an investment. It’s part of the fabric of how you operate. Law firms can no longer write it off as an expense because there's a significant return when you do it right. It’s a cornerstone of the services you provide, just like your legal expertise is a cornerstone. Don’t have missing pieces…And it is not new news, but it’s only now that firms are seeing the impact of lack of focus on customer experience because referral volume isn’t what it used to be."
Recent surveys, such as Smokeball's State of Law and How Technology is Changing the Legal Industry studies, confirm the disparity between client desires and law firms' offerings. Clients increasingly prefer virtual meetings, frequent communication, and digital payment options, yet many firms lag in implementing these preferences. The reluctance to adopt technology not only hampers communication but also creates friction in client interactions, ultimately eroding trust.
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To bridge this gap, law firms must leverage technology to streamline processes and enhance client experiences. Automation can simplify client intake, communication, and billing processes, making it easier for clients to engage with the firm. Additionally, optimizing websites for mobile access and providing relevant information upfront can improve client satisfaction and attract new business.
Effective communication is also crucial, with text messaging and client portals offering convenient channels for interaction. However, it's essential to address security concerns and educate clients on the risks associated with certain communication methods. By understanding client preferences and integrating technology accordingly, firms can foster trust and loyalty.
Investing in technology is not just about adopting new tools but also about providing superior service. Integrated systems and proper training ensure seamless operations and effective communication, enhancing the overall client experience. Moreover, as discussions around generative AI emerge, firms must stay informed and transparent with clients about the tools they employ.
Ultimately, meeting client expectations requires a proactive approach centered on understanding and leveraging technology to deliver exceptional service. By embracing the "Easy Button" mentality and prioritizing client needs, law firms can differentiate themselves in a competitive landscape and thrive in the digital age. It's time to elevate your firm's game and ensure that every client interaction is a smooth and satisfying experience.
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