By Christina Grzasko at Legal Futures Associate LEAP Legal Software
The global pandemic has shown that the way clients want to communicate with their law firm has changed. The pre-pandemic model of clients turning up at the office and accessing legal services via traditional means is largely a thing of the past. Clients are embracing the digital shift. They now expect a better service, often for less, with technology playing a leading role, and expectations have changed following their experiences with other service industries, such as insurance and banking.
Clients want technology systems that face them, that they can engage with and that fit their lifestyle. The Internet and its way of helping people conduct business across all aspects of their lives means that access to information about a firm – good, bad, or indifferent – is supplanting local word of mouth, as is the ability to source alternatives to their local firm, regardless of location.
Clients can now select firms online using Google reviews or Trust Pilot to guide them with recommendations about a firm. This provides law firms the opportunity to engage with reviewers, and show potential clients that they not only provide a good legal service but that they care about customer service. This is a paradigm shift in the way clients view law firms, a firm needs to come out of the ivory tower, engage and become involved with clients, and accommodate the preferred method of communication.
Even now some law firms are not investing in technology despite the rug having been pulled from under them by the pandemic. Law firms, rightly, must consider the effect on their bottom line and for those investing in innovation they can count the ways in which cloud working, now readily available to firms of all sizes, enables reliable access to integrated and powerful case management systems in a way which helps save money and increases profit margins.
Before the pandemic most client interactions were carried out face to face. Out of necessity the use and reliance on technology has increased. Everyday more and more service interactions are through Apps, Web Chat facilities, Portals etc. and most clients have become comfortable with using these interfaces.
One of the most evident technological client-facing changes involves the use of online client portals, which can be held separate or be integrated within a firm’s website. A web portal can incorporate secure online document sharing capabilities and enables clients to self-serve 24/7. Clients can book appointments, pay bills online, send instructions, read their case documents and comment on them. All this without coming near the office.
If a law firm is concerned about the thought of clients self-serving through a web portal, consider this: it’s a reliable, fast-track way to client satisfaction as it removes the perpetual complaint that firms don’t keep clients up to date. In real time, the legal team can make documents and correspondence available to a client through a secure platform and the client can read them at their leisure.
Technology is also a great way to acquire new clients. Previously, good personal service leading to strong word of mouth was required to increase local work. Now, alongside this, there is the ability to connect with prospects globally, interact and collaborate on documents online and with the use of Zoom or Microsoft Teams, which can and should be integrated with a firm’s case management system, to communicate face to face from anywhere in the world.
Client-facing technology has fast become the norm with powerful, integrated cloud-based case management software such as LEAP providing innovative solutions that empower firms to develop their digital service, improve client experience, grow their reputation and attract repeat business.