01 July 2019

How to market your firm by providing excellent client service

Published on 01 July 2019

How to market your firm by providing excellent client service

Few law firms are famous for their client service. It is an understandable predicament. Deadline-driven legal work keeps you busy at the best of times, while the adversarial nature of the job can leave little room to prioritise pleasantries.

Clients rarely see any of this, especially when they share horror stories of their lawyers. Too often, providing the kind of client service clients expect can seem to sit at odds with being an efficient and effective lawyer.

In this story, Insights explores four simple ways lawyers can provide and become known for their excellent service.

Make a good impression – and leave a great impression

The first time a client contacts you is your first chance to make a good impression. If a client is shopping around for lawyers, responding warmly and quickly can mean they choose you over another lawyer.

“When I had my own practice the first phone call I would return would be from a potential new client,” Jeffrey Roth, the College of Law’s Practice Leader for Legal Business Management, told Lawyers Weekly. “As the old saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

“Improving your first contact with a client is simple: brief all staff, including professional support staff, on the major practice areas of the firm, key terms they may encounter, and points of contact in each practice area.”

Just as important is leaving the client with a lasting positive impression of your firm and services.

“Once the client’s work is concluded, it’s quite useful to get some constructive feedback,” said Jeffrey. “Further, with positive feedback, asking for a referral is a logical next step.”

Move services online to offer 24/7 responsiveness

How often has a client been unable to come in to a sign a document, missed a meeting because of a missed call or email, or paid late because they misplaced an invoice? So much of a lawyer’s life is spent on this kind of administrative busywork. Most of it cannot be billed. It is the reason that in order to clock eight billable hours, lawyers might spend ten to twelve hours in the office.

Consider how you could move these services online. Automio, for example, provides interactive legal bots to help interview clients before your first meeting. Automio’s legal bots also answer simple legal questions, providing clients a handy 24/7 self-service option. Similarly, Zaliet delivers portals for law firms to interact with clients online – getting documents shared and signed, meetings booked or rescheduled, and bills paid. These services help move a matter along while not requiring your personal attention or time. More importantly, they give your client the impression of being constantly served and always able to get the answers they need.

Get personal to understand what your client wants

Misunderstood clients can prove costly. Taking time to understand what a client really wants to achieve through legal action can help shape your advice. Realistically, this may allow you to flag any regulatory or ethical issues which may impede a commercial action. At a more personal level, it may help frame what is possible for the law to achieve. In doing so, the client may have a clearer idea of how to achieve their goals through legal and potentially non-legal means.

“Across the legal community, we hear from clients that they want change – they want legal services to be more convenient, more accessible, cheaper and simpler, with the client in control in practice as well as theory,” Katie Miller, Executive Director of Victoria Legal Aid, told Lawyers Weekly

“That starts with listening – to our clients, our community of practitioners, to the broader community,” said Katie.

“What has won some law firms work that others have missed out on is the difference between those who are really willing to invest in the relationship and understand our business,” Uber’s head of legal for Asia-Pacific, Katrina Johnson, told Lawyers Weekly.

For Katrina, a firm that was willing to have its lawyers use and test Uber was a firm ready to understand what legal issues Uber was likely to encounter. In other words, it is worth going the extra mile to show both enthusiasm and deep understanding of what a client does. Not only does this win business, but it helps retain a client in the long run.

Keep your client up-to-date with progress

How often has a client called you asking for a progress update? It is the first warning sign that a client feels under-served and anxious about their matter.

“In my practice I commonly reached out to clients, even when nothing significant was happening, just to reassure them that I hadn’t forgotten about them (usually at no charge!),” Jeffrey said.

This might be in the form of a phone call or an email offering a weekly wrap-up of the matter. An email could include what might be delaying the matter, or highlight an item you may need from the client to progress. It is a simple way to help the client feel like they are an active part of the matter, and empowered to help in whatever way they can.