Improving Client Experiences Through Automation
The legal industry is more competitive than ever. New players are entering the market with non-traditional business models and innovative ways of serving clients. A 2020 report analyzed competitive factors in the legal market and noted a new “highly disruptive model is taking hold of the legal market and radically transforming the delivery of legal services.”
Most of the disruption in the legal market is attributable to technology. Automation solutions allow firms to complete more work with less resources than ever before. A big driving factor for the legal tech push are changing client preferences and expectations. Clients accustomed to managing all aspects of their personal and professional lives expect the same conveniences when it comes to retaining and working with a law firm.
Going forward it will become increasingly important for firms to implement client-focused automation solutions to remain competitive. In this article we explore several ways that your firm can get started with automation to offer excellent and memorable client experiences.
First impressions are everything. How you convert your personal injury leads or workers compensation leads into active clients sets the tone for the duration of the client relationship. Traditional intake processes are inefficient, slow, and not enjoyable for clients. Depending on the type of case, clients may have to spend hours in your office providing information and more time at home gathering and sending documents.
With an automated client intake solution your firm can create custom forms that fit each of your practice areas. For example, personal injury leads would provide their contact information and relevant information about the accident. Workers compensation leads would fill in information about their employer and workplace injury. Not only are these forms user-friendly, but they save you or a staff member from having to spend potentially hours collecting the information in person.
Automated intake solutions also make it easy to delegate tasks to your team through custom workflows, as well as set important reminders to ensure that nothing is overlooked. You can also ensure that your clients are kept in the loop with automated messages that make clients feel important and that their cases are in good hands.
Lawyers are accustomed to manual and time-consuming forms of communication. For instance, spending hours every day typing out emails or getting on the phone. Much of client communications are for mundane matters like checking case status. The legal profession has clung to inefficient processes more so than other industries. But that is starting to change.
The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) technology is making it easier than ever for law firms to automate client communication. AI-based chatbots serve an important role in legal lead generation. Unlike humans chatbots are available 24/7. Consider the role that chatbots could play in converting workers compensation leads who are afraid to put their employer info into an online form, for instance.
Imagine a prospective client sustained a whiplash injury after hours or on the weekend. They are looking for answers when they stumble across your website. A chat window pops up offering assistance. The client types in a question about personal injury law. Through predefined workflows the client’s questions are answered making them feel comfortable and validated. Through the chatbot they continue to schedule a consultation with your firm.
And consultations no longer need to be in person. Particularly in the age of social distancing. Video platforms can play vital roles. Lawyers no longer need to work 9-5 jobs and carry extensive overhead. Rather, clients can book appointments directly through the website and be in touch with a lawyer hours later from the comfort of their own homes.
The days of dropping off cash or a check at the office are over. We no longer pay for things in the ways that we used to, and the legal profession is no exception. When it comes to getting paid the more platforms that you use the better. These include convenient peer-to-peer payment services like Venmo or PayPal. Or accepting credit cards through a provider like Square or directly through your legal billing software. Not diversifying your payment methods will cost you money. According to one survey, 40% of respondents reported that they would not hire a lawyer that did not accept credit or debit cards.
A consistent cashflow is vital to the health of a law practice. Manually printing and mailing out invoices costs you money and time and is less likely to result in payment than electronic invoicing. Clients appreciate the transparency that electronic billing provides. They can review invoices instantly and reach out with any concerns rather than waiting weeks to resolve it through mail or other means. For firms that bill on a contingency fee basis, like personal injury lawyers, sending accountings electronically as well as payments provides clients with positive experiences that will keep them coming back and more personal injury leads coming in.
Document automation leverages technology to draft legal documents at scale. Just about every practice area has some form of document automation software. For example, software to generate closing documents or bankruptcy petitions. These solutions benefit clients in several ways.
First, lawyers can put documents together quicker both increasing their profit margins and passing savings onto clients. Second, automation reduces manual errors that can be very costly for clients. Third, firms can send documents to clients electronically for their review and signature. Clients appreciate the option of avoiding a trip to the office. Finally, document automation systems secure client information. Unlike paper files that may be misplaced or destroyed, electronic copies are always available on secure servers.
Modern legal marketing is all about understanding the customer experience. It is about putting yourself in your clients’ shoes. What services would be important to you? What features do you enjoy using when interacting with businesses in other industries? Just because the rest of the legal profession relies on antiquated processes does not mean that you cannot be an innovator.
Rather, implement automation technologies your firm that will delight your clients. Start small and build off your successes. You will be amazed by the exponential growth that you experience through accumulated goodwill that you establish with your clients, allowing you to convert more legal leads than ever before.