Exceptional Client Services in Law Firms
By Mary Elizabeth Hammond
If you’re looking for a fine dining experience and end up with fast food, you’d likely be disappointed. Both are meals, but one offers a more exceptional and memorable experience. Providing excellent client services ensures that your law firm offers a Michelin star restaurant-level experience. And this means greater client retention and acquisition through positive online reviews and word-of-mouth referrals.
A client-based approach helps law firms bridge the gap between standard and exceptional services.
Standard Client Services
There are standard practices all law firms should provide during client correspondence. These include:
- Lend a Listening Ear: Listen to your client’s story to understand the needs of their situation. A clear understanding of the client’s particular situation will help lawyers work towards the client’s desired outcome and enable lawyers and clients to lay the foundation for a professional relationship.
- Provide a Plan: Clients are coming to you for legal advice or assistance and are relying on your expertise to help them resolve their situations. During the consultation process, guide them through the legal process and provide a descriptive outline of what your firm can do to help. This may include your firm’s general strategy, how fees are calculated, communication expectations, and a general timeline.
- Basic Communication: Once you sign on a client, keep them informed on their case at all times. As you receive information and updates, relay those to your client in a timely manner. Even if there hasn’t been progress, don’t forget to communicate with the client to update them on the reason for delays or hold-ups. Check your state bars for rulings on this matter. For example, the rules of professional conduct for the Missouri Bar and Judiciary rule 1.4 state the necessity of “reasonable” and timely client communication.
What Should Exceptional Client Services in Law Firms Look Like?
Exceptional client services start with strong client relationships from the initial consultation to the conclusion of a case. Those relationships are built by identifying and meeting expectations, issuing strong communication, and providing a positive, seamless client journey.
Each client, case, and matter is different. Anticipating client needs can be difficult. Take a look at your client journey. Has it been mapped out? Does each step of the journey meet the client’s needs? Are any adjustments needed? Understanding client needs, communicating them to all staff involved, and meeting those needs throughout the case will position your law firm in the exceptional category. This translates into a higher likelihood of positive reviews and increased referrals.
4 Tips for Excellent Client Services
Providing exceptional client-based services is much easier when you clearly define expectations, integrate communication and software tools, and form professional relationships with clients. Here are a few best practices for implementing an excellent client experience:
1. Provide Seamless Communication
According to the American Bar Association, effective client communication is an ethical duty for lawyers. Providing easy, seamless communication can relieve some of the stress your client is inevitably facing. Utilizing a client portal can help lawyers provide a one-stop hub for clients. Through the client portal, attorneys can:
- Quickly communicate with clients
- Securely share important dates and case reminders
- Create and share invoices and financial statements
- Get paid without collecting credit card numbers
This makes the process much more efficient and secure.
2. Be Responsive
According to research from the American Bar Association (ABA), 42% of the time, lawyers take three or more days to reply to a voicemail, email, or web-generated form filled by a prospective client. In the 2021 Legal Industry Report, which surveyed over 2,000 legal professionals, 50% of respondents claimed that lead intake was challenging.
Delayed responses can result in poor client feedback, lower conversion rates, and negatively impact your firm’s reputation.
Establish communication and responsiveness early on and continuously throughout the client journey. This will forge a trusting relationship for the client and a more organized process for your firm.
3. Increase Efficiency With Easy Integration Tools
Managing a law firm and juggling multiple clients involves time-consuming day-to-day tasks. It’s easy to fall behind on client communication, billing, and other vital tasks. Integration tools for tasks such as legal billing and payments can relieve some of that burden and improve the client experience. This can also allow law firms to provide online payment options—which will likely result in better overall cash flow. In addition, seamless workflow automation can automate some busy admin work that often bogs law firms down.
4. Empathize With Clients
Empathy breeds connection and trust. Carl Rogers, the founder of the client-centered therapy movement, defines true empathy as sensing “the client’s private world as if it were your own, but without ever losing the ‘as if’ quality.” Many clients will not have an in-depth understanding of the legal process, but their case or matter is personal to them. Show clients that you understand their priorities, concerns, and needs.
Standing out From the Crowd
Optimizing a client base approach by providing exceptional services will lead to happier clients, higher rapport, and ultimately set your firm up for success. Clients will be much more likely to return and recommend your services, leading to valuable testimonies, reviews, and positive word-of-mouth referrals.
Learn more on how MyCase can help you provide exceptional client services, automate some of that time-consuming busy work, and improve your firm. Try a risk-free 10-day free trial to see firsthand how MyCase can elevate your client services.