Are you an attorney who owns or works for a firm that claims to be client focused? If so, how is your firm’s level of client focus measured? If your firm were analyzed by a disinterested third party, you might be surprised to learn that not everything is as it appears.
There is little doubt that the legal industry in America is being pulled into the modern, client focused environment initiated by the fast pace of technological advancement. But where many other industries are fully embracing technology to improve the customer experience, the legal profession continues to drag its feet. Even the most client focused law firms in the land do not hold a candle to the best businesses in other industries.
All this leads to the obvious question of what actually constitutes a truly client focused law firm. If we compare how the legal industry does business against other industries, say hospitality for example, we can clearly see five identifying marks of true client focus:
1. The Customer Mentality
Hospitality providers do not view the people who pay for their services as clients. They view them as guests. This doesn’t work in law for obvious reasons. Yet clients can still be treated as customers paying for a service.
Adopting the customer mentality changes everything. The customer mentality says you have to earn a person’s business. It says that everything you do is motivated by a desire to please the customer. It puts control of the relationship back in the hands of the client.
2. Around-the-Clock Access
Whether we like it or not, modern consumers have come to expect 24-hour access. They expect it as much from their law firms as they do their favorite hotel chains. What does that mean to practice owners and their attorneys? It means making people available to clients at all times. It might mean bringing in paralegals and others capable of assisting when lawyers are off the clock.
3. Streamlined Case Management
A truly client focused law firm has already streamlined case management with a modern software solution like NuLaw. In so doing, all the information relevant to a client and his/her case is found in one place. Anyone dealing with the client has access to case information, scheduling information, e-mail communications, legal documents, and so forth. All the data can be put to use to keep the client happy.
4. Multiple Payment Options
The 2018 Legal Trends Reports reveals that some 57% of attorneys think their clients prefer to pay them in person. Guess what? Only 39% really do. The remaining 61% would prefer to make payment in some other way. This suggests that a truly client focused law firm offers online payments, electronic payments, and so forth.
5. Multiple Communication Options
Along with multiple payment options, clients want multiple options for communicating with their attorneys. Face-to-face meetings are still incredibly important. So are phone calls. But clients also expect to be able to communicate by way of e-mail, instant messaging, social media, etc. They get that kind of service from the hospitality sector; they expect it from the legal profession as well.
It is true that practicing law is nothing like running a hotel. However, most of the rest of the world has adopted a client focused mentality that seeks to engage customers where they are rather than expecting customers to engage with them. If a law firm genuinely wants to be client focused, it has to adopt the same mentality and implement the same principles demonstrated in other sectors.