All businesses need to offer a good level of customer service if they want to stay afloat. Of course, exceptional customer service can help you to stand out from the crowd and gain a bigger share of the market.
However, law firms have traditionally shied away from introducing customer-led initiatives. As companies routinely require the services of commercial lawyers, many law firms assume their customer base is guaranteed.
To enhance customer lifecycle value and attract new clients, however, commercial lawyers must prioritise customer service. If you want to lead the way when it comes to customer service in the legal profession, take a look at these three simple ways commercial lawyers can offer better levels of customer service:
1. Direct Contact
Clients can rarely contact their commercial lawyers directly, particularly not on their first attempt! Incoming phone calls are typically fielded by PAs and receptionists, while emails may be left unattended for days at a time.
For clients, this approach is frustrating. While complex legal matters may not benefit from simple solutions, it’s important that clients feel listened to and acknowledged. If commercial lawyers set aside a particular portion of the day to deal with client contact, they will automatically enhance their customer service.
Similarly, enforcing a client contact policy that ensures calls are returned and emails are replied to within a specific amount of time will elevate customer service. Although client meetings, negotiations, and court appearances can prevent commercial lawyers from responding to direct contact instantaneously, this needn’t be a barrier to delivering great customer service.
2. Information Sharing
When clients want an update on their case, they generally have to wait until they can connect with their lawyer. Although legal assistants, executives, and paralegals may be working on their case, they may require express authorisation to share information, even with the client. Similarly, receptionists and PAs are routinely unable to give clients the information they require.
Using a customer relationship management system will increase flexibility when it comes to client queries. While complex matters should still be restricted to solicitors or barristers, an up-to-date CRM platform will enable more staff members to engage with clients.
If a client wants to know if a court date has been received, for example, this is a simple query that needn’t be dealt with by their solicitor. Instead, any member of staff could check the CRM software and update the client.
As well as meeting the client’s expectations, this approach minimises the amount of time lawyers spend returning calls and responding to emails. With lawyers free to focus on more complex queries, support staff and more junior commercial legal personnel can resolve client queries more expeditiously.
3. Online Meetings
The legal profession has been relatively slow to embrace technology. When it comes to filing papers with the court system, for example, filing via email is still a relatively new concept. For client interactions, however, commercial lawyers can – and should – take advantage of the latest tools.
With online meeting software, commercial lawyers can offer clients the opportunity to minimise in-person meetings. This increases efficiency and ensures client meetings can be conducted more quickly.
Similarly, secure document sharing services will enable legal documents to be modified and amended far more quickly. While email has significantly increased the rate at which documents can be updated, newer technology can make the process even more efficient and ensure a higher level of customer service is achieved.
Client-led Commercial Legal Services
The legal profession hasn’t naturally adopted a customer or client-led ethos, but firms are beginning to change. As clients become more vocal about their expectations, law firms are beginning to respond to the increasing demand for clarity, contact, and communication.
As in any industry, it is the firms that adopt client-led processes that will reap the rewards. Many client acquisitions in the corporate legal world as based on word of mouth and networking. If commercial firms become known for their commitment to customer service, they will find it easier to attract new clients.
In doing so, commercial lawyers will find their increased client acquisition fuels their ascent to becoming a partner, while law firms will enjoy unparalleled growth and success.