This month marks the first anniversary of when much of the United States moved to work remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The shift to staying home also threw a spotlight on the increasingly high standards for customer service we’ve created in the digital age; how many of us now take for granted having ordered meal delivery through an app or household goods for next-day delivery, and watching first-run movies via a commercial-free streaming service while placing those orders?
In order to make sure that the legal profession keeps pace with our consumer practices, we need to understand how consumer expectations have changed and what we can do to keep up with them.
We’re living in a time of unprecedented access to knowledge and goods, and it stands to reason that the legal industry still has work to do in order to evolve and catch up.
People in need of legal services have more options than ever. There are lawyer apps created to link customers with legal advice, an entire corner of the internet devoted to DIY legal, and the increasing number of attorneys and courts practicing remotely means folks may not be limited to working with those lawyers whose offices they can most easily get to.
Still, local law firms aren’t going anywhere. People will still need personal injury attorneys to fight for them in court, family lawyers to guide them through contentious divorce or custody matters, estate planning attorneys to ensure their loved ones are taken care of, and the myriad other legal services that allow our communities to function and thrive.
But in a world of 24/7 access to answers and connection, what can today’s lawyers do to differentiate themselves and provide the experience clients demand while maintaining their business and sanity?
Communication and transparency
First and foremost, today’s clients expect a high level of communication and transparency into what’s happening with their legal matters. Make sure your firm has a plan for when and how to check in with clients – can you implement legal software that sends automatic updates? Using a case management software like Smokeball gives you the option to send SMS updates via our Communicate legal app, saving staff time that might otherwise be spend responding to clients’ requests for an update.
Utilizing legal practice management software with tasks and workflows, a secure messaging system, and law firm email management can give you the tools you need to be proactive with your client communication.
No lawyer intends to provide anything less than the best service for their clients, but the widespread availability of knowledge to today’s clients means that something as small as a negative remark on a lawyer review site can have ramifications for months or years to come.
Reduce your risk of errors by implementing a legal document automation system that saves you the risk and tedium of filling out forms from scratch, and make sure your legal calendaring software is synced throughout your law firm to avoid missed deadlines or appointments. Automatic time tracking ensures that you are accurately tracking your billable hours and billing what you’re worth.
A personal touch
We all prefer to work with people we like and trust. Fostering a sense of personal connection may require a little creativity when in-person meetings aren’t happening, but isn’t impossible. Can you include photos and videos on your website or social media so that your potential clients can get a sense of what it might be like to work with you? Even little things like sending out a birthday or holiday message can help convey to your clients that they’re not just a number, but a valued patron.
Companies like Amazon and Apple have had tremendous success by focusing on a customer-first approach and constantly adjusting their processes to make things easier for consumers. As the legal industry continues to grow and evolve, taking a customer-centrist approach is the logical next step for law firms hoping to maintain and expand their business post-COVID and beyond.