Every organization needs money to survive, and in the for-profit world, that money comes from loyal customers. For this reason, most businesses are customer-centric: they will do anything to improve customer service and they will bend over backwards to make their customers’ lives even marginally easier…but then there are lawyers. Lawyers just seem to be stuck in their ways, and have often overlooked the importance of customer service in building a successful practice. One particularly overlooked aspect of providing good customer service is during the client intake process. This post lays out why the client intake process is broken, and what you can do to fix it.
Why the Client Intake Process is Broken
Other industries place a high value on customer service because they know it will create greater loyalty, better brand recognition, more referrals, and ultimately greater success. For whatever reason, many lawyers seem to have ignored this fact, and they are not operating their law firms like the businesses they are.
If you haven’t already realized that customer service is your most powerful marketing tool, it’s time to get with the program. But good customer service isn’t just about being friendly and courteous. It’s about going above and beyond to impress your clients with your efficient processes and exceptional communication.
Stop making your clients jump through hoops just to work with you!
Remember, having to hire a lawyer in the first place is often a negative experience due to the external circumstances – divorce, bankruptcy, accidents, lawsuits, criminal charges, etc. Not exactly a day at the beach.
The last thing your clients want to do is download, print, and fill out your 30 page bankruptcy form by hand, and then have to scan it, page-by-page, to email it back to you (or worse yet, go out of their way to the post office so they can snail mail it back).
It shouldn’t be hard to hire a lawyer, especially in today’s world where people have come to expect everything to be incredibly easy. Just think about some of the things technology enables us to do, and how much easier our lives are because of it:
Google – you can find just about any information you are looking for instantly; Amazon – you can buy literally anything with a single click, and have it delivered to you in days; Uber – you can request a ride from anywhere with the tap of a button; Google Maps – you can get turn-by-turn voice instructions to direct you while driving; Airbnb – book a place to stay, the same day, anywhere in the world; Venmo – instantly send money to friends or family from your smartphone, no cash required; and the list goes on…
With technology constantly evolving to make our lives easier, it’s shocking that so many lawyers still use old-school, less than optimal processes to get stuff done.
Are you really making your clients come across town, on a weekday, to stop by your office and sign an engagement letter? Are you seriously still having clients print out and mail back their intake paperwork? And don’t tell me that you are still requesting paper checks as your primary method for payment…
Unfortunately, many lawyers are still using these terribly outdated, inefficient, and painful processes while working with their clients. It may not make a difference to you, but think about your clients. They are the ones who matter. They are your customers, and to them, especially those from younger generations, performing these tedious tasks just so their lawyer can get his job done is a major pain-in-the-you-know-what.
It may sound ridiculous, but with technology so ubiquitous in our everyday lives, people are coming to expect easy, on-demand, efficient service no matter what they are purchasing. Legal services should be no different.
Utilize Technology to Gain a Competitive Advantage
Are you still using these broken processes for client intake in your practice? Well don’t worry because you’re not alone. Most firms are behind the times when it comes to client intake procedures. But, those law firms who are willing to think outside the box and implement technology to add efficiency to their client intake process stand to gain a leg up on the competition.
Here are some of our suggestions for ways you can improve your client intake process by using technology:
- Offer online intake forms rather than Word documents that your clients have to print and fill out by hand
- Allow e-signatures for documents rather than requiring the client to physically sign everything
- Use practice management software to stay organized and keep your clients in the loop
- Collaborate with clients constantly throughout each matter (Clio Connect is a good option for this)
- Listen to your clients, and focus on delivering only the benefits that they seek (read this)
- Accept online payments to make your clients’ lives easier (not to mention your bill collection process)
- Be transparent about your billing practices upfront, and always keep clients informed of their current bill status (see Viewabill)
We here at Lexicata believe strongly in the potential for technology and cloud software to revolutionize the way a successful law practice is run by increasing efficiency, streamlining processes, and above all providing better service. Client intake is just the start. Want to try our law firm CRM and client intake software for free? You can sign up for a demo at Lexicata.com.