It’s no secret that creating a good customer experience is the key to winning and retaining business relationships no matter what type of industry you’re in. In the highly competitive area of law, this is especially important. However, lawyers and law firms have some of the poorest records for customer service.
This could be reversed with just a little extra care. The core of all good customer service is empathy, but far too many lawyers are focused just on giving advice. Advice is a major part of legal services, but knowing when to give empathy, when to give advice, and when to give both is essential for creating a good rapport with a client and leaving them with a good impression.
Here are 4 ways that legal firms can improve customer experience and improve the reputation of their practices.
Always Call Back within 24 Hours – As many as 40% of potential clients for legal services send an email, voicemail, or chat but never get specific answers to their questions about their case. The most important thing for any member of a legal firm to do is promptly return all contacts received within 24 hours.
Granted, some clients think that the more they call the faster their case will go through. There is a fine line that has to be walked here so that aggressive clients don’t overwhelm your time. But only contacting a client when something has happened can be very frustrating for them.
Good Customer Experience Means Showing Empathy and Being a Good Listener – Most people don’t want to be in a situation that requires them to hire an attorney. By the time clients are looking for help, they need direct and honest answers to their legal questions. However, many clients also contact a lawyer when they’re in an emotionally raw or sensitive state. It’s not uncommon for a client to lash out emotionally when you’re trying to get information from them you need to process their case. They may shout, scream, cry, or react in any number of ways.
These emotional reactions must be handled before you can get clear answers. This requires empathy and strong active listening skills. Lawyers who want to provide exceptional customer experience have to take the time to listen. Strangely enough, if you can form a good empathetic bond with a client you can get a lot of important information faster.
Update Your Clients About Their Case Regularly – Personal injury, disability, family law, bankruptcy, criminal defense, and other legal matters cause a lot of stress for clients. It doesn’t help that cases can last for months or even years. The long process of a legal case is one reason why many clients call over and over again hoping for an update.
Rose Burberry Martin, marketing consultant for Chisolm, Chisolm and Kilpatrick Ltd., a firm which helps in legal matters applying to veterans and their families, recommends that “even if there is no progress on a case to speak of, clients need to get occasional updates. “We feel it’s important to check in with our clients at least once every couple of weeks to keep them informed, answer any questions, and generally find out how they’re doing. They usually end up feeling far better about the progress of their situation even when a case is running slowly.”
Set Expectations – Finally, one thing that can smooth a lot of things over early is by setting expectations for communication and case progress right from the outset. Let them know your communication and billing policies right up front. Even better, give them a sheet with your policies right at the beginning when you take their case. It should include things like how to pay you, when and how you’ll contact them with case updates, how you’ll handle things when they call you, and other customer service questions.
Providing good customer service is one of the best ways to keep your clients happy. Clients are far more likely to be happy with the legal services you and your firm provide by simply paying attention, reaching out and showing you care. And if you set expectations in the beginning you can avoid a lot of trouble with problem clients. Happy clients are your best referral sources to others who need your legal services.