Because of the effects of COVID-19, legal practice is changing – and fast. For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, many law firms switched to remote working, and many still have work-from-home mandates. Similarly, videoconferencing has become the norm, and trials, hearings, and trials are practically regular in many countries. Law firms have also incorporated cloud-based remote work tools into their workflows, including VoIP phone systems, online faxing, and law firm management software.
Just as practice has been affected by all of these changes, so too have the expectations of legal consumers of the 21st century. Because of the pandemic, customer expectations have necessarily changed. Today, your customers expect 24/7 access to case-related information and instant answers to their questions, whether you’re in the office or working remotely.
Law firms that want to survive and thrive in 2020 must meet these changing customer expectations. This means that you provide your clients with tools that will allow them to get instant information about their cases, whether from their client files or by communicating with you or another knowledgeable person in your company. 9-5 Office hours and constant face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past. Instead, legal consumers prefer the ability to conveniently and securely receive and provide information on their own schedule from their home or office.
In other words, affordable legal services with world-class customer service and built-in convenience and accessibility to information are the keys to success in today’s competitive and ever-changing legal landscape. With that in mind, here’s how you can deliver exactly what your clients – and potential clients – expect from a modern law firm.
Online access to case-related information
Quick access to information is an important element for great customer service in 2020. Your clients want to know what’s going on with their cases and have their questions answered quickly. In the past, customers had to wait to get answers. First, they would have to call your office for information such as: B. the date of your next court appearance or the amount owed on an invoice. Then they would have to wait patiently for a call back.
But customers want more these days. You want instant and convenient access to information. Fortunately, there are affordable tools to get your job done, such as: B. Online Client Portals. With customer portals, your customers can log in regardless of their whereabouts or time of day and receive instant answers to many of their most frequently asked questions. And because they don’t have to go to the office, your administrative staff have more time to focus on more pressing work.
Get questions answered quickly
With this in mind, customers value an open line of communication – especially during a pandemic. Your clients are most likely to suffer from a variety of stressors related to the changing times and the last thing they need is to face roadblocks trying to reach their attorney. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your customers get the answers they need, when they need it, quickly and easily.
Of course, since many lawyers work remotely, it is important that all communication with clients is secure. This is because your client’s case-related information is confidential. Hence, safety is paramount. It used to be that email was enough, but as times change, so do preferred methods of communication.
In 2020, when technological and ethical standards continue to evolve, the best way to securely and efficiently communicate with your company’s customers, no matter where you are, is through an encrypted customer portal. Using a client portal, your clients can securely notify you from any computer or Internet-enabled device. You can then reply to this message from anywhere, knowing that your client’s sensitive case-related information is safe and secure.
Safe face-to-face meetings
It’s also important to make sure that on the rare occasion that you need to meet with your customers in person, your customers know that you’ve done what it takes to keep them safe. Because of this, it is imperative that you provide your clients with clear information about the steps you have taken to ensure that your law firm is as secure as possible.
First you need to prepare your office. You need to keep security and disinfection logs in place, and take steps to minimize physical interaction between law firm staff and your clients. These steps include physical barriers, reducing the number of people in the office at the same time, reducing the number of face-to-face meetings as much as possible, and installing building upgrades to reduce physical contact.
Next, you need to share the company’s security protocols with your customers. Clear communication should take place in this regard before customers arrive at your company, be it via the customer portal, by letter, by e-mail or by phone call. It is also important to put up signs in your business that provide guidance and information about social distancing and hygiene protocols.
Short and long term competitive prices
Finally, now is a good time to take steps to reduce business expense and re-examine your company’s pricing approach. By updating the technology setup of your law firm, you can reduce the overhead of your law firm and thus ensure both short-term stability in the here and now and short-term and short-term costs for law firms and customer costs in the long term.
The first step is to move all of your law firm’s systems to the cloud, as this is an inexpensive and inexpensive way to improve your law firm’s resilience. This is because if your law firm is investing in cloud-based systems such as law firm management software, it will allow all employees to quickly and easily transition to remote work, whether COVID-19 recurs later this year or another unexpected event fails the road.
Also, consider allowing employees who were productive from home during the quarantine to continue doing so either permanently or for a few days per week. This way you can reduce the number of people in your office at any given time. You may also want to reduce your company’s footprint and move to a smaller office to cut overhead and create a leaner and more efficient business in the short and long term.
Now that you’ve reduced your business overhead, you can implement alternative charging schemes like flat-rate billing. One of the main reasons for using alternative billing structures is that customers prefer them. With the total fee and expectations set in advance, customers can budget and plan for fee payment. Because unexpected and costly legal fees can be stressful, flat-rate fees and alternative billing structures such as fee subscriptions reduce customer stress and result in happier, more appreciative customers.
So what are you waiting for? Once you have followed all of the above, your business will be fully prepared for changing customer expectations and you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done. You have taken the necessary steps to provide top quality, responsive customer service even in the midst of a pandemic. Your customers and the bottom line of your business will thank you.