Here’s an interesting fact: 33% of Americans would consider switching brands after a single bad customer service experience, and it can take up to twelve positive experiences with a brand to negate one bad one.
That being said, improving customer service is an effective way to gain new clients and retain existing ones. After all, a strong attorney client relationship is crucial to running a successful law firm.
At a high-level, successful law firm customer service centers on the client’s experience. It anticipates their needs so that you can provide seamless support from the first client call to the day they pay their last bill.
Now let’s explore how you can put that idea into action.
#1 Design Your Customer Experience Path
While there are a number of options to improve your clients’ customer service experience, it can be helpful to start with understanding what works—and doesn’t work—about your current customer service strategy.
Audit Existing Customer Service Path
To examine your current client service path, start by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Then identify where you could reduce any friction the typical customer experiences.
Try walking through the customer service path, from beginning to end. Visit your website, imagining you were a first-time customer who knew nothing about your firm.
For example, your website’s contact page may be hidden under a wall of text. Rather than have your customer conduct a scavenger hunt to find the best way to ask a question or receive a quote, make your website easily navigable with clear headings at the top of each page.
Then, call your office line and listen to your current voicemail or automated service options. Take stock of how long it typically takes you to respond to a new client, and imagine how that response time would feel to a stressed or confused client looking for legal expertise they trust.
Lastly, review your billing practices to determine if it’s convenient and transparent for the client.
To learn more about your clients’ customer service experience, you can:
- Conduct surveys – Survey current and former clients about their experience. Then set time aside to comb through the results, paying special attention to any patterns you see, whether good or bad.
- Talk to employees – Ask your employees about who most frequently interacts with clients and what issues clients have brought to their attention in the past. A client may communicate different issues to a receptionist than they would to their attorney.
By moving step-by-step through the customer journey, you find areas where your current service stands out as well as areas where your firm could improve.
Re-Design a Path to Meet Your Customer Service Goals
Once you’ve determined the areas of client service you’d like to improve, you can begin to brainstorm solutions.
Sometimes a solution may consist of a simple fix—for example, moving important information to a more visible part of your website.
Other times, improving customer service requires a larger professional cultural shift. For example, experts recommend empowering your customer service team to develop innovative solutions to tailor each experience to the individual.
For example, while one client may only want to hear the most recent updates of a case over a quick phone call, another may want to sit down with an attorney one-on-one to walk through past and upcoming procedures in-depth.
As such, consider providing a form to each client where they can detail how they want to be communicated with and what they expect from the client attorney relationship. This ensures that the clients’ needs are met and that your firm is properly prepared to meet those needs.
#2 Prioritize First Impressions
First impressions matter. Most clients will interact with a representative from your firm for the first time when they ask about your services or set up an initial appointment to discuss their legal needs.
To help make that first experience as positive as possible, consider:
- Making it human – The sooner they speak directly with a real human who can provide empathy and competent customer support, the better.
- Providing expertise from the start – Talking with a newly hired, legally inexperienced receptionist feels different from talking to an experienced, highly-trained customer service expert. Always invest in training your customer service employees—or hiring legal communication specialists.
- Expanding customer service hours – When you make it easier for your customers to schedule an appointment with you, it shows customers that you value their time and want to support them, no matter what their schedule looks like.
#3 Let Your Customer Choose the Communication Medium
Everyone has their own preferences in terms of how they want to conduct their personal business. Consider expanding your communication options to allow customers to choose the option they find most convenient.
A recent study suggested 88% of millennials preferred text messaging to speaking over the phone. About 52% of millennials admitted that phone calls made them anxious.
Many people already find dealing with legal issues stressful. By inviting potential clients to reach out in the manner they find most comfortable, you can improve their experience and make your firm more accessible.
To offer a well-rounded suite of communication options, consider offering client communication via:
- Online messaging
#4 Improve Response Time
From estate planning to business matters, lawyers often meet clients while they’re in the midst of dealing with an important issue. To avoid long wait times and show clients that they’re valued, consider improving response times with dedicated receptionists or communication specialists who are poised to answer calls within 24 hours or less.
#5 Stabilize Your Customer Service Team
One report found the third most critical aspect of customer service was easy access to knowledgeable employees.
To stabilize your customer service team, consider bolstering your in-house service with knowledgeable and experienced employees or hiring a virtual legal answering service.
In-House Customer Service
If you choose to build an in-house customer service team, take the time to find employees who genuinely like supporting your customers. Then give them plenty of reasons to stay by offering incentives like:
- Competitive pay
- A positive and respectful work environment
- Manageable work-loads
- The necessary resources and support to achieve your firm’s customer service goals
- Opportunities for further professional education and advancement
Attracting and retaining a stable and competent in-house customer service team can greatly improve your law firm’s customer service. However, it can also suck up time and financial resources you’d rather use elsewhere.
If that’s the case, you might want to consider a virtual legal service answering service.
Virtual Legal Answering Service
Like an in-house customer service team, a legal answering service can offer your clients experienced customer service. Unlike an in-house team, an answering service can provide 24-hour support to potential leads and clients.
The specific benefits of a legal answering service will vary based on the service you select. For example, Alert’s legal answering service offers the following benefits:
- 24/7 customer service – We make sure your customers receive immediate support 24 hours a day, 356 days a year. Whether you hire us exclusively or just to cover your off-hours, a legal service can provide full coverage that benefits you and your clients.
- Meeting scheduling and smooth call transfers – Many of us know the frustrations of accidentally dropping a call or sending five emails to schedule one meeting. We save you time by taking these tasks off your plate so that you can focus on the rest of your business.
- Highly trained intake specialists – Our team of highly-trained specialists, exclusively focused on supporting law firms like yours, ensures your customers always receive knowledgeable support.
- Spanish-language support – We offer support in both Spanish and English to help you reach a wider range of clients.
- Affordability – We offer more support for less of your budget.
A respected legal call service will act as an extension of your firm, providing expert customer service and communication support at all hours of the day.
Keep the Communication Channel Open with Alert’s Legal Call Service
Successful customer service comes down to what your firm can offer its clients, whether it’s seamless website navigation, a positive first impression, or effective lines of communication.
At Alert Communications, we help you grow revenue by making sure we never miss an opportunity to provide your customers with truly excellent support. That approach has informed our 57-year history of serving the legal industry—and led law firms and legal marketing agencies across the country to choose Alert.
Our specialists are available to your clients 24/7/365. And our industry expertise means we can screen potential leads, identify the best opportunities for your firm, and support existing clientele. We also scale our support to fit your needs, such as messaging services for law firms who want to offer their clients more convenient communication options.
From the moment they pick up the phone, we support your customers—and you—by offering expert customer service. Contact our legal specialists today.
Forbes. Consumer Contact Preferences Have Changed — Is Your Business Ready? https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/09/17/consumer-contact-preferences-have-changed—is-your-business-ready/?sh=22cb09e54457
Forbes. How To Create A Memorable Brand Moment Through Customer Service. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2022/06/10/how-to-create-a-memorable-brand-moment-through-customer-service/?sh=33b3fe2e5853
The New York Times. What We Learned About the Economy in 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/31/upshot/economy-inflation-2021-review.html?searchResultPosition=5