Client relationships are the lifeblood of any law practice and today’s technology can help lawyers improve them. Yet most people who run a business, including lawyers, tend to make a lot of assumptions about what their clients want, which may not be accurate.
According to the 2018 Legal Trends Report, only 10% of lawyers say they collect client feedback through online surveys; 4% do so formally in person; and 37% say they don’t collect feedback at all.
Client feedback is important, but so is anticipating clients’ needs before they even know themselves. Let’s look at some technology that enables law firms to go beyond meeting client expectations to improve the attorney/client relationship.
1. Client Portals
One of the biggest factors in attorney malpractice claims is poor communication with clients. Clients want ongoing updates on their cases, and they especially don’t want their bills to be a surprise.
An online portal will never replace reassurance from an attorney, but it does enable transparency without the time drain of replying to client emails or phone calls when they want to know how their case is going. If they can log in to see the hours being spent on their case, it will make things simpler for both parties.
2. Automated Payments
In today’s world of tapping our credit cards or paying with our phones, having easy payment methods at your firm can go a long way.
According to the same 2018 Legal Trends Report, this is an increasingly important factor for clients of lawyers. Clients who have hired an attorney within the last two years tend to be the most demanding in this regard. Of that demographic,
50% are more likely to hire an attorney who takes electronic payments.
47% are more likely to hire an attorney who accepts automated payments or fund transfers.
3. Appointment Scheduling
More and more companies are setting up online scheduling for their businesses. It allows clients to pick and choose the date and time that suits them best without needing to go back and forth with a receptionist.
This definitely applies to law firms. Leaving receptionists and assistants to their own work can save them time, as well as the benefit of clients setting up their own appointments at the times you’ve designated as available.
4. Explaining and Signing Documents
For important documents, you will probably want to meet with clients in person. However, for more mundane matter, you can take advantage of technology that enables clients to sign electronically. Also, there are many screen sharing applications that enable attorneys to explain documents to their clients in detail. When clients are at a distance and the matters are routine, these can be good options.
5. Artificial Intelligence Chatbots
Some law firms are following the lead of legal information websites by offering question and answer services with chatbots or “robo-lawyers” on their firm websites. This artificial intelligence technology enables clients to get basic information on legal topics, so they do not need to call their lawyers every time they have a question. The result is that both client and attorney time become more productive.
Technology advancements can give your clients a level of convenience and transparency in dealing with your firm that they never had before. At the same time, as certain mundane interactions become automated, legal professionals can enjoy a decrease in interruptions to finish their work, so that they can provide their clients with better legal representation. This includes document automate software and template management systems. The more time you save formatting and editing documents, the more time you have for other billable tasks.