How to Achieve a Perfect Client Experience: A 3-Step Process
We know that the term “client experience” sounds trendy and probably a bit nonsensical to many law firm leaders. “The client wants the biggest settlement possible,” some say. “They don’t want us to contact them all the time, and we don’t have time anyway!”
Yes, some people think that way. Yes, they’re wrong. The number one bar complaint is poor communication. Law firms don’t talk to their clients enough! And while communication is not everything in the client experience, let’s assume you have the substantive legal aspect covered.
For the rest, you probably already have systems to help you. Your case management, intake, and other tools probably include some things you can use to make the client experience top-notch. If they don’t, you should probably start using one that does.
Step 1: Intake
The perfect client experience starts with the first client experience. That’s intake. When someone calls your law firm – setting aside the first impressions cliché – they’re probably in a bad place. Understand that perspective. They’re interested in what they need from you, not what you need from them.
Ask Good Questions…
Your intake process should include a list of questions you can ask a potential client that will give them a chance to communicate their problem and allow you to gather the information you need. Thoughtful questions and active listening are the way to go here, and features like GrowPath’s smart questionnaires ensure extraneous or irrelevant questions aren’t asked.
…and Only Ask Them Once
The surefire way to tell your prospective client that you aren’t listening is to ask the same thing twice. If your intake software is not smart enough to remove upcoming questions that no longer apply based on the client’s previous answers, the person taking the call will have to do it. Or you need better intake software. Being heard matters. Feeling heard may matter even more. If you’ve ever experienced being passively ignored when you’re talking about something important, you know what we’re talking about.
Automate Responses and Set Expectations
Communication is crucial to the relationship, whether the client signs immediately or not. If they haven’t signed, you must follow up to sign them. If they have, you’ve got to get them on board and in the loop. Set expectations and do what you say you’ll do. The most potent intake tools, like those in GrowPath, let you automate these processes. Leads can automatically receive texts and emails you create whenever you want them to, and clients are instantly notified at a change in their case status…without you having to do a thing.
To Create the Perfect Client Experience at Intake:
- Actively listen, ask smart questions, and understand their needs
- Don’t ask duplicate or irrelevant questions
- Set expectations – they’ve probably had enough surprises
- Automate responses by scheduling or setting triggers to keep them informed
Step 2: Case Management
This is the bread and butter of client experience and probably what they will remember most about your firm. Remember that they’re essentially in limbo about the future. The outcome of the case may change their decision process. Not knowing what to do sucks, and not knowing what your lawyer is doing for you sucks even more.
Never Let a Client Feel Ignored
It may seem challenging – how do you know how the client feels? Well, ask them! Pick up the phone and call them periodically, even if you’re just calling to tell them nothing has changed, and ask them how they’re doing. Schedule periodic follow-ups. And then DO THEM. It’s amazing how many firms set those reminders and then simply “skip this one” repeatedly.
Automation That Doesn’t Feel Automated
Sending texts and emails to the client every so often need not be a personal endeavor. A simple “We’re still waiting for X, but wanted to keep you looped in. We’re here for you!” text goes a very long way. The same goes for emails – an automated message could congratulate a client for persevering and finishing treatment, for instance. Use common sense and let automation do the heavy lifting for you.
Tell Them What You’re Doing
If you’re struggling for something to say as you wait for documents, records, and responses to demands, take a few bricks out of the wall between the client’s world and yours. In a PI firm, for example, tell them, “We’re in what’s called the demand phase, which means…” or “Right now, we’re waiting until you complete medical treatment – that means you feel good and we have all of the bills so we can send an appropriate demand that covers you!” The client appreciates that you’re working. The more they get that idea, the better they’ll feel about their experience, regardless of the outcome.
To Create the Perfect Client Experience During Case Management:
- Don’t let the client feel ignored – communicate regularly
- Automate communication to sync up at milestones and ensure no dead spots
- Use text and email, but don’t forget to call (and don’t put off calling) periodically
- Help the client understand what’s going on and what you’re doing for them
Step 3: Analytics
Creating the perfect client experience may not have anything to do with the client, per se. To the client, pretty much everything on the law firm side of the relationship is invisible. For your firm, the big picture should be clear, and analyzing data may tell you things you can do to improve the client experience. When you have data, you may be surprised by what you can learn.
Look for Communication Bottlenecks
Is the paralegal supposed to follow up or the attorney? Is there a triggered communication waiting to trigger for too long? Or has the client not been contacted for more than two weeks? Looking at the live data can spot communication bottlenecks. Solving this problem means the client never feels ignored (see the previous section).
Ensure the Case Is Progressing
Languishing clients are not happy clients. While there are delays that can happen, what they really want is to move on with their lives. Analyzing your data may show you cases that are lingering too long, what stage they’re in, and how to get them in gear. Faster case, happier client.
Maximize the Result
If you have the right tools, you may be able to spot trends with certain insurers. For example, you can spot who may be more likely to render policy limits and take advantage of that to push for more value. You may also be able to add value by spotting additional case opportunities like Mass Torts. GrowPath’s Buzzwords™ feature is built to do just that – and now you can get advanced data mining, case finding capabilities as a standalone service!
To Create the Perfect Client Experience With Analytics:
- Keep the communication flowing by identifying and removing bottlenecks
- Address cases that are languishing, and ensure the client isn’t left out
- Use data to improve outcomes whenever possible – both for speed and compensation
- Add more value by spotting additional case opportunities for clients hidden in your data
The Perfect Client Experience Is a Journey, Not a Destination
Clients, by and large, want their case and their unpleasant position to be resolved quickly and to get back to their lives. A perfect client experience gives them that, minimizes surprises, calms their worries, keeps them looped in and empowered, and ultimately makes them whole. That’s a lot to do, and getting it perfect is hard. You can’t control everything.
However, by controlling what you can, you can make an enormous difference in how clients experience and remember your law firm and what they do next. A positive experience should produce a positive review at the very least.
And if you don’t think you have the tools you need to pursue the perfect client experience, you can always give GrowPath a try!