By Legal Futures Associate Moneypenny
Celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne is set to offer a very welcome and extended bank holiday weekend – but the holiday-feeling could derail the client experience if your legal firm is not prepared, says Bernadette Bennett, head of the legal sector at leading outsourced communications provider Moneypenny.
Bank holidays often cause issues for business when it comes to service continuity – the more people are on holiday the longer clients and prospects must wait for questions to be asked and issues to be resolved. But this needn’t be the case says Bernadette, as there are several ways to ensure client communication is fit for a queen this Platinum Jubilee bank holiday.
Bernadette says: “Think about the resources you’ll have in place and what this means. Many people are tagging extra days holiday on to the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday so it’s quite possible that teams might be under-resourced for a week either side rather than just a couple of days. To avoid this national holiday being anything but a celebration, you need to consider how reduced staff or availability will impact clients. Will you be open over the bank holiday weekend at all? When can clients expect call backs? How quickly will new business calls be progressed? How will emergency calls be escalated? By considering these kinds of scenarios now, you can ensure the most appropriate response.”
Boost don’t reduce
Longer-than-normal response times are often expected due to bank holidays, but they needn’t be says Bernadette: “There’s a tendency to think a reduction in client care during busy or holiday periods is inevitable – but why does it have to be that way? With the right level of outsourced support – be that overflow call handling to fully outsourced support and 247 live chat – there are ways to make sure all enquiries are captured, messages are taken, and issues escalated as necessary.
Legal firms should use all available channels to explain to clients how the jubilee will impact both service and availability – after all, no one expects lawyers to be available 247 and your team deserves a holiday too.
Bernadette says: “Clients are more forgiving when they know what’s happening. It pays to be exhaustive when it comes to managing their expectations. If you’re closed altogether explain for how long. If service is reduced or calls will be handled within 72 hours instead of your usual 24 hours, be upfront and say it. Notes on email footers and in newsletters, updated phone recordings, social media updates and live chat pop-ups can all help to manage expectations, explain changed opening hours and show client care matters to your firm.
Bernadette adds: “Equally, firms should give thought to the self-serve options that are available. Website FAQs can be effective at helping clients find answers to basic questions while live chat can help to take messages, signpost people to help and capture leads 247, all while also keeping volume away from the phones. Both options rely on the client taking the lead when it comes to meeting their own needs. Having options like these is an important part of empowering clients and ensuring choice.”
Bernadette’s final tip is to refrain from the behaviours that can lead to client frustration and ultimately client loss. She says: “Resist the temptation to rely on voicemail to pick up calls while your team enjoys the long weekend. We all know that clients don’t like leaving them, and even fewer people check their messages. Save annoyance and frustration all round by guaranteeing that a person answers the phone.
“Leaving a message with a person is far better for your client or prospect as it makes them feel heard and valued. It also provides an opportunity to show empathy, manage expectations, resolve issues, capture new leads and even escalate urgent enquiries as and when required.”
Bernie concludes: “No one wants to return to work to a raft of angry and frustrated clients or missed opportunities. Use the next few weeks to ensure you have the right communication strategies in place. Work with your in-house marketing and web teams, talk to differing departments about the demand they expect, think about typical clients’ and prospects’ needs and establish where outsourced support might help. Continuity is king (or should we say queen) when it comes to client care…. even during a bank holiday.”