Amazon Drone Delivery & Consumer Expectations:
Lessons for Lawyers

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.55.33 AMCustomer service: it’s a term we hear often, but what does it really mean–especially for lawyers? It’s not an easy question to answer since this concept is in flux now that 21st century consumers have access to whatever they want, no matter what time of day or night. Whether it’s information, instant streaming of music, movies, and televisions shows, or 24/7 online shopping, today’s consumers can get whatever they want–whenever they want it.

For example, as Amazon just announced, online shopping is becoming more instantaneous than ever, with the unveiling of Amazon’s Prime’s 30-minute delivery by drone. As ZDNet reports, this concept is being tested as we speak and is expected to become reality in just a few years:

According to the program, the octocopter drones will pick up packages in small buckets at Amazon’s fulfillment centers and fly directly to customers’ nearby in as little as 30 minutes after they hit the “buy” button.

Talk about customer service! Just imagine what this service will do to consumer expectations–overnight delivery will become oh-so early 21st century. 30-minute delivery by drone will become the new standard–much like Domino Pizza’s guaranteed 30-minute delivery with online tracking did–a concept that amped up the competition in the pizza delivery world.

But, does this trend of instantaneous access really apply to legal clients? After all, aren’t legal clients different from typical consumers simply by nature of the professional services being provided to them? Many attorneys believe this to be the case and argue that legal clients receive “good customer service”  as long as their lawyer works hard and obtains the best legal outcome possible. But is that really all there is to providing the best service to your clients?

Matt Homann’s recent experiment at his blog, the [non]billable hour, suggests otherwise. Out of curiosity he tested the Google Autocomplete function using a number of queries relating to attorneys and here’s what he found:

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So it turns out that lawyers aren’t exactly the most popular people, but judging from the sheer volume of lawyer jokes out there, we already knew that! But what’s most interesting about this series of searches is the last set of autocompletes which indicate that legal clients as a whole are obviously incredibly frustrated with their attorneys’ communications skills–or lack thereof.

But if you’ve been reading this blog, then that fact shouldn’t be particularly surprising to you since we’ve discussed the importance of client communication skills many times in the past, most recently as part of of continuing series about the top 10 things lawyers aren’t taught in law school.

So what can we learn from this common complaint about lawyers and the Amazon drone delivery initiative? Is there an overlap? Absolutely!

What we can learn is that legal consumers are no different than any other type of consumer. At the end of the day they want instant access–not to a product that they’ve purchased–but to information about the legal services that they’ve retained you to provide.

In other words–they want to know what’s going on with their case. Can you blame them? They’ve paid you a lot of money and they simply want to know where things stand. But, how best to do that? Sometimes another’s client’s case takes precedence or you’re stuck in court all day. It’s a fact of life–attorneys are busy and sometimes you’re just too pressed for time and simply can’t call them back immediately.

The good news is that with 21st century technologies, you don’t have to. For example, by using modern law practice management software with built-in client portals, client communication is simplified. Secure online portals provide your clients with instantaneous access to information about their case. Your clients can log on day or night and quickly and easily find answers to many of their most common questions. They’ll no longer need to contact you to find out their next court date or obtain a copy of a document from their file. Instead, your clients will know exactly what’s going on with their case since you’ll provide them with 24/7 access to their file.

So be the Jeff Bezos of the legal field. Understand what your clients want and use 21st century technologies to provide them with exactly what they’re looking for: the best legal representation available and instantaneous access to their case-related information. Your receptionist–and your clients–will thank you.

–Nicole Black

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