Modern clients have higher expectations; how can law firms adapt?
It’s not all about shaking hands
Winning new business in the modern marketplace involves more than just meeting a few potential clients at networking events. You need to differentiate yourself from the competition, showcase your talents online and build a relationship with existing clients. Ensuring that your business and all your fee earners are on LinkedIn and other relevant social media sites can help to bring in new business. A blog can also strengthen your image, providing a platform for discussion and highlighting your specialist knowledge.
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Speed is of the essence
Modern clients are increasingly reluctant to wait when it comes to being served in any industry and law is no exception. The Amazon generation expect their needs to be fulfilled quickly and efficiently, and they are happy to shop around if their wishes are not being met. So you need to make sure you are ahead of the competition, both in terms of speed and quality. Also, don’t just benchmark your service against other law firms - consider other sectors which are successful when it comes to customer service and see if you can take some cues from them.
Keeping clients in the loop
In the age of the smartphone, people like to be kept updated at all times. So it’s a good idea to inform clients of each stage of the process and also be available for dealing with any queries via email. Make sure you indicate the lengths of time expected to complete any instructions - and of course it’s always better to overestimate the time it will take rather than leave a client disappointed that work was not completed on time. If you run into any difficulties along the way which are going to cause delay, explain this to your client so they know how much longer they will need to wait.
The customer is always right
When dealing with clients, try to avoid taking a “lawyerly” approach and switch to more of a customer-service persona if possible. If, for example, there has been a problem with billing or a delay always apologise immediately and then try to resolve the issue, rather than going on the defensive. Even if the client has made a mistake themselves, you should avoid placing the blame. You want to make clients feel good about their dealings with your firm to encourage them to come back. Train all your staff to take this sort of approach.
Establish an identity and maintain relationships
Becoming known as a firm which specialises in a specific area can help to create an identity or brand. Although this can help to bring in new work, you will also need to prove that you can handle other areas if you wish to provide other services to existing clients (which is generally far easier than trying to acquire new clients). You can do this easily by creating several online presences, promoting different sectors of work (eg. a separate website for family law services). Also remember to keep an eye on any specific legal services which are in demand (eg. there were over 26,000 insolvency cases in the third quarter of 2013 so insolvency law is very popular at the moment!).
To do list:
- Differentiate yourself from the competition.
- Use LinkedIn and set up a blog.
- Ensure speed and efficiency.
- Keep clients in the loop.
- Focus on customer service.
- Establish an identity.
- Maintain customer relationships.