In order for a law office to thrive, it must have a happy client base. Client happiness is the job of every person that works for or represents your law office. One of the most common management concepts used in the legal industry is total quality management. Because management concepts can take a lot of time to explain (and implement) into a law practice, we’re going to focus on 5 secrets of customer service training that most law offices miss. If you’re missing these core components, your clients will take their money and their referrals to another lawyer.
Improve the Intake Process
Yes, improving the intake process really is part of customer service training. Making your intake process easier to use and understand benefits both your new clients and your staff. An over-complicated intake process slows down your staff. While helping new clients through this process (and ensuring that you will have all the information you need) is important, there are other tasks related to client matters that should receive most of their focus. And if you’re a solo attorney, a streamlined intake process helps you by minimizing the amount of time you spend on this task. It benefits the client by making the process faster and easier to complete. This means that more of their initial appointment is spent talking with you about their legal problem. In fact, there are ways that you can implement an online intake process that enables new clients to complete the process from the privacy and comfort of their own environment.
Not Speaking with Clients in Plain English
There are two types of clients: experienced clients and inexperienced clients. Experienced clients are people who’ve dealt with the legal system before. Often, these are people who own a business. They usually understand at least very basic legal terms. Of course, some don’t. They prefer to leave the lawyering to you. Then, you have inexperienced clients. These are people who’ve never dealt with a legal matter. They don’t necessarily know or understand what should (or shouldn’t happen). They don’t understand a lot of legal terms or the purpose of various pleadings and responses.
Unless you know for a fact that your client understands legalese, don’t use it. Even if they are an experienced client, use it sparingly. Talk to all of your clients in plain English. This customer service training tip should be given to everyone who works for you. Receptionists, legal assistants, and others who may talk to a client or potential client on your behalf should explain basic concepts and give updates on cases using plain English. This helps establish a bond of trust with your client, particularly if they don’t have any experience with the legal system.
Empowered Staff Can Help Calm Angry Clients
At some point, every lawyer deals with a client who is upset. Most often, clients are upset because they didn’t get a return phone call or a reply to an email, they’re not getting updates as often as they want, they don’t understand their bill, or a hearing or settlement meeting doesn’t go as they thought it should. Your customer service training plan should involve preparing your staff on how to handle angry clients. An empowered staff member is someone who has the ability to solve the problem that the client presents. This could be giving an update you specifically prepared, answering questions related to the invoice, making a small adjustment to the invoice for long-term clients or for errors made by your staff, and relaying messages on your behalf (although we recommend that you return all messages left specifically for you within 24 business hours).
Embrace the Perspective of the Client
This customer service training tip goes beyond the Golden Rule of treating others how you want to be treated. While that’s important, it’s even more important to embrace the perspective of your client. Personal injury law, family law, criminal defense law, and essentially every other practice area have the ability to bring out the worst in clients. As a lawyer, you’re trained to be level-headed. Always remember that clients don’t have the same legal training you received. Even a routine matter in your practice area may feel like the end of the world to them. When you embrace their perspective, you’ll find it easier to educate them and help them through. This is beneficial for you because it creates a strong bond of loyalty. Clients are more likely to refer you to their family and friends.
Work with Customer Service Professionals
If you’re a lawyer looking to improve your relationship with your clients, call Clients ARM for a free consultation. For more than 30 years, Clients ARM has provided valuable services to the legal industry, including customer service, client intake, and billing. To learn more about who we are and what we do, give us a call! Ask us how we can help your potential clients get the money they need to pay you in full!