By Hayley Earlam from Legal Futures’ Associate Concert Networks 
Law firms are not famed for their technological proficiency. Some lawyers might think that having a poor grasp of technology is acceptable because, as a profession, law relishes tradition. However, innovation doesn’t necessarily mean losing sight of what’s important to the discipline.
Our 2018 Legal Services Communication Report  revealed that law firms are still slacking when it comes to their communications. Although we did see an improvement on previous years in some areas such as the average time on hold and the time taken to answer, overall, firms still appear to be a step behind.
After contacting over 30 leading firms, it was apparent that the legal sector still has a patchy hold on their communications, something which embracing technological innovation undoubtedly would improve.
While many firms were using some tech, they were rarely doing so effectively. Many were missing out on the opportunity to make a good first impression on prospects and delight existing clients by demonstrating excellent client communications.
In general, firms that used technology did so in a way that made them appear cold and abrupt. Callers in our report were confronted with automated messages and were transferred without explanation.
Thankfully, in general this poor handling of communications is something that could have been improved with a better implementation of technology.
The legal industry is a service industry. In 2018, clients and prospects expect seamless and frictionless communications with services firms, not fractured and unresponsive assistance.
People are incredibly time poor – if you can’t answer their enquiries quickly, they are likely to look elsewhere and find someone else who will. In the age of same day deliveries and instant messaging, people are not going to be happy to sit around waiting for a response.
What’s more, in their time pressured lives, people expect firms to take the initiative and for lawyers or admin staff to call them back. Our results showed that this rarely happened. Usually, firms asked prospects and clients ‘to call back at a better time’ or sometimes failed to call back at an appropriate time.
With all the technology available, it is remarkably easy to manage call backs so this poor customer service could have been avoided.
The technology that firms could use to improve includes phone systems which show visibility and can handle transfers between multi-site locations. By correctly implementing such communications systems, law firms could improve on some of the flaws that emerged during our survey. Other firms could improve even by correcting simple issues such as no voicemail, no updating of absence messages and not scheduling reminders for colleagues to call back.
Looking forward, it is likely that increased use of more mobile apps, alongside client collaboration tools bringing greater efficiency and simplification, will help leading firms to stay ahead of the rest.
To download your copy of the full survey, please click here  or the image below.