Client experience, not a phrase thrown around much. In some circles it isn’t used because they don’t know what it means, in other circles they don’t use it because it doesn’t matter to them and to others don’t mention it because they take it as a given that a good client experience must be given. But regardless of why it isn’t mentioned it is still an important concept both in business generally and law firms specifically. Why?
Because clients rarely choose you, a lawyer, because you’re simply a lawyer. There are quite literally tens of thousands of you across the country and thousands on the client’s backstep. They choose you because of the experience your team give them. This experience consists of many different elements that make up the whole “client experience” but make no mistake, it is the experience of working with you that makes a client choose you.
But before we get into why a good, great, or even perfect client experience is needed. Let’s explain what a good client experience is.
What is a good client experience?
So, we already have an idea of what a client experience is. It is the individual component of a client working with you accumulated together to create a “client experience”. These multiple individual components can be anything from asking your client to come into the office to have themselves verified or sending them emails with documents attached for them to sign or just a phone call letting them know how the case is progressing. All of this makes up the client experience.
As with most things in life, a client experience can be good, or it can be bad. There are many reasons why this experience could be bad but many of those reasons boil down to single, obvious point. Time wasting. If you waste your client’s time, then you are providing a bad client experience because all this does is build frustration in you and your practice. What many lawyers don’t realise however is that many of the policies and procedures they currently carry out are wasting time.
For example, every law firm must carry out due diligence on their client when they’re instructed. Depending on the type of matter a law firm might need to or may not need to carry out checks on the client’s finances, also called Source of funds. The lawyer will ask the client to send in their documentation, usually consisting of a passport and utility bill so that they can be verified. The client usually takes a day or two to respond, the lawyer having everything will then take a day or two to input it into their manual systems and it will either spit out a “pass or fail” mark. This process has taken up to 4 days. That is 4 days for a process which could be done remotely, taken 5 minutes and all completed through an ID verification system.
Once the client is verified, the lawyer might then send their client care pack to them. At best it is emailed so then the client must print everything, read everything, sign everything, scan everything and send it back to the lawyer. At worst it is sent by post, signed, and then returned by post or in person. Both of these are arduous processes and can easily add on another 4-5 days. The result being two weeks have already passed since the client instructed you and you’re still not working on the matter.
Time is important for everyone including you and your client. So, wasting time on old processes when new, better, technology can be used to speed up everything is doing no one any favours. So, a good client experience is one that shortens the amount of time on admin tasks and lets you move into the matter quicker.
Why is a good client experience important?
Now that we understand what a good, and bad client experience is. Why is a good client experience important? The simple answer to that is good will.
You don’t return to a shop that asked you to leave for now reason. You don’t go back to an accountant that forgot to do your VAT return and you don’t go back to a lawyer who wasted your time. If you’re looking to grow as a practice and develop a firm that is recognised both locally and nationally, you need a good client experience so that you earn good will from clients which can lead to referrals.
But not only that, a good client experience sets you apart from competitors and depending on where you’re based, there could be another law firm either side of your building. So how do you distinguish yourself if you both offer the same service? It all comes down to how you treat the client. Rarely, if ever, does a client who had a good experience with a law firm go to another.
So, the bottom line is the reason a good client experience is important is because it helps your bottom line.
How to improve your client experience
So, we understand what the client experience is, and we understand why it is important. The question now is, how do we improve our client experience? Well, if we keep in mind that wasting time is the biggest pet peeve of all clients, then the best way to improve your client experience is to reduce wasteful time and keep the matter moving forward.
If you’re still asking your client to send information or come into the office to be verified, consider a remote verification system. If you’re sending your client care pack in the post of email to be signed, consider an electronic signature solution. If you’re asking your client to make a payment through an invoice, then consider a payment on account solution. Keep your client updated, make them aware of progress happening on the matter, even if small.
Keep the matter moving forward, keep your client up to date and don’t waste time on things you can control.