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May 20, 2022

Leading the Way: The Business of Law in 2022 and Beyond – Part 2

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Lead the Way with Client Service

About the Leading the Way Series

“Leading the Way: The Business of Law in 2022 & Beyond” from SurePoint Technologies is a series focused on the competitive advantages of midsize law firms. In this eight-part series, we will examine how the pandemic accelerated changes and created a much-needed paradigm shift in the legal industry. In this post, we examine how firms are using legal technology to meet evolving client expectations.

Client Service: Understanding What Your Clients Want and How to Deliver it

Running a law firm has changed drastically in just two years. The pandemic transformed the legal industry by accelerating long-needed changes and creating a rapid paradigm shift in the business of law. Much of this change has been brewing for years, driven by demographic, technological, and economic demands. Client satisfaction has always been critical to a law firm’s success. As client expectations evolve, it is imperative that firms adapt to meet them. The first step is understanding what your clients expect from your firm and its lawyers so you can deliver it.

Today, the demands of the client and the legal workforce require all law firm leaders to take a more iTo deliver on client expectations, it is important for firms to know their clients by understanding their businesses and the challenges they face. Mid-size law firms can pivot to meet the changing demands of their clients because they’re big enough to offer vital resources for clients of any size yet small enough to provide dedicated personalized attention. Consider the focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards in recent years. As ESG becomes part of standard corporate operations, many firms have established dedicated ESG practices to help their corporate clients.

Client-focused technology is one of the ways in which mid-size firms can differentiate themselves. Their size makes them agile and flexible enough to adopt new technologies more quickly and efficiently than their big law counterparts. Without the bureaucracy and high overhead, implementation is typically faster, less costly, and requires far less convincing to get buy-in across the firm. 

Understanding the problems new technology can solve for your clients is essential. Lawyers are problem solvers, but with the right information, they can prevent problems as well. Staying on top of important industry issues and understanding potential legal implications for clients is fundamental to the practice of law. When you understand the problems your clients face, you can focus on the solutions to help you solve them.

Lawyers are an extension of the companies they represent. Their focus should be to help the company and defend and protect it against potential problems. As businesses become more selective about who they work with, law firms must think about the service they provide in terms of value and not just the hours billed. This is why it’s so important for lawyers to not only understand the value they provide to their clients but to communicate that value to them in a meaningful way.

By the nature of their size, there are inherent attributes of mid-size firms that provide significant competitive advantages. With less overhead, mid-size firms are able to deliver big law results without the big law price. For instance, mid-size firms can easily pivot and innovate faster than their big law colleagues because there are fewer barriers to strategic decision-making. Mid-size firms can also offer more competitive pricing, nimbly respond to client requests, launch new practice areas, and quickly implement new technology. All of this translates to greater efficiencies and value for their clients.

Findings from the “2020 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Performance Drivers” report indicate that technology will continue to play a vital role in client service:

  • 81% of legal departments surveyed ask law firms about the technology they use
  • 76% of law firms indicate concern about the increasing importance of legal technology however only 28% of firms indicate readiness for it
  • Nearly 60% of law firms expect artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to have a significant impact on their practice however only 22% of lawyers claim to understand it well

Client-First and Client-Focused

Client-focused firms provide additional value by knowing what their clients want from them and how to deliver. This almost means that they place a priority on client satisfaction and know when they don’t have it. Putting systems in place to track client satisfaction helps ensure your clients stay happy and that they stay with your firm.

Client surveys are one way to generate meaningful feedback however the reality is that many firms struggle to implement these programs. Many lawyers are reluctant to ask their clients for direct feedback, but a formal client feedback process will easily set your firm apart and allow you to establish a more client-focused culture. When you have this data, you can identify patterns, understand how clients engage with your firm, and see potential warning signs when you are in danger of losing a client. Some law firms even publish their surveys on their websites so they are easily accessible and not limited to the end of a matter.

Communication is the Common Thread

How your firm and its lawyers communicate with clients impacts the entire client experience. Think about the many touchpoints in a relationship with your clients:

  • Website
  • Industry alerts and thought leadership
  • Emails
  • Client intake forms
  • Appointment booking systems
  • Invoices
  • Timekeeping reports
  • Events

It is imperative that you consider every potential touchpoint and understand how, when, and why. This information can be tracked in your firm’s CRM some can even be found in the time and billing system. Any material issued by your firm is an opportunity to further develop the relationship and reinforce your emphasis on client service and satisfaction. Be sure to make the most of those opportunities.

Gone are the Days of “While You Were Out”

With so many methods available for communication, clients expect timely responses to their emails and phone calls no matter where they are or what device they’re holding. Clients should know that when they call, email, or text that they can expect a response. This is the bare minimum for client service, but some firms fail to achieve even this. Clients also want to access information in real-time, as quickly as possible. While client portals have been the subject of discussion over the years, this access can be provided through other methods such as time and billing platforms that provide lawyers with real-time time and billing data and dashboards.

As clients embrace and adopt technology like never before, law firms must do so as well. Firms that understand the importance of technology on client relationships and service will be at a far better competitive advantage than those that are unwilling.  

How law firms communicate with their clients is also evolving. It is vital to meet your clients where they want to be whether that’s on Zoom or in the office. Meeting clients where they are and where they want to be will make a strong and lasting impression.

Additionally, understanding your clients’ preferences will help you tailor solutions to them. While phone and email are still essential communication tools, some clients are becoming less eager to use them preferring to utilize more collaborative options such as video conferencing via Teams or Zoom and even WhatsApp.

If you don’t know what communication methods your clients prefer, ask them. When you do, it is important to make sure that you follow them. These preferences can be stored in your firm’s CRM so they are accessible to everyone. Not everyone will have the same preferences (even at the same company), so a variety of options will allow you to provide a custom-fit and client-focused experience.

Track & Manage Communications

Building relationships with your clients is easier with software solutions that enable you to track and manage your communications. This enables you to deliver additional value to your clients, and it allows you to uncover opportunities for business development. Many firms use their time and billing software or CRM – either independently or through an integration – to collect and track this information. You’ll know how you’re communicating with clients and how often. More important, you’ll know how they’re engaging with those communications so you can focus on content that resonates with your clients and leads to new business.

Simply put, it is no longer enough to be a good lawyer. Firms that are client-focused are the ones that will thrive in 2022 and beyond.  Start by focusing on what your clients and identifying how to deliver. Use your communications tools and available technology to connect with clients and don’t be afraid to ask them what they want.  

The business of law is changing, evolving, and adapting to the new client and workforce demands. What questions do you have? Share them with us and tell us about your concerns. We’ll do our best to address them in a future post.

Missed the Other Posts? Read Them Now

Post 1: Leading the Way: The Business of Law in 2022 & Beyond – The Midsize Advantage

Post 3: Leading the Way: The Business of Law in 2022 & Beyond – Key Performance Indicators

Are You Ready to Lead the Way?

Schedule a demo to learn more about how mid-size firms are leading the way and unlocking higher performance with SurePoint.

About SurePoint Technologies

SurePoint Technologies is a leading provider of financial and practice management software to law firms nationwide. For more than 40 years, law firms have relied on SurePoint’s award-winning enterprise software to drastically improve workflow and maximize financial performance. With a community of more than 70,000 members, SurePoint continues to transform the legal industry by enabling law firms to unlock higher performance by freeing lawyers of administrative burdens so they can spend far more time focusing on their clients and their practice. Learn more at https://surepoint.com.