Ease and Responsiveness are Critical Success Factors in Law Firms
Legal software maker CLIO surveyed thousands of law firm clients in its Legal Technology: Future Horizons survey. One question asked the clients what was most important to them when choosing a law firm. The majority cited overall cost of services as their primary concern, but ease and responsiveness came in shortly after.
Attorneys do not necessarily place these qualities on top of their client service lists, so understanding their priority is important to growing the firm’s revenue.
The 3-Pronged Strategy
No single attorney can be responsible for ease and responsiveness to every client. Firms deliver these qualities by integrating attorney relationships, technology, and business processes.
When attorneys start the client relationship by clarifying expectations, they gain insight into the client’s definition of these qualities. If the firm has improved responsiveness and ease in technology, business processes, and innovation, then attorneys can use these improvements to deliver services to high client satisfaction.
Responsiveness and ease-of-use also wins and retains clients and generates more client referrals; a clear win-win.
Technology is a valuable tool for law firms. Customer relationship management (CRMs), client intake software, document processing applications, eDiscovery platforms: these technologies improve firm processes and outcomes.
However, clients are not satisfied with waiting in the dark. Clients want to see progress in their matters and control costs, and they don’t want to wait until next month’s phone meeting to do it. Automated reporting allows clients to get the answers they need quickly, which improves the client experience with helpful insight.
CRMs and client intake software also benefit the firm by helping attorneys to know their clients, and better understand their legal concerns and objectives. And when clients feel that their attorney is knowledgeable about meeting their needs, they are more likely to make referrals.
Business processes involve people, tasks, and performance. Good business processes analyze all three to streamline workflow and save money for the firm and its clients. In addition, streamlined workflow gives the firm better visibility into client matters, which allows attorneys to quickly respond to client concerns.
Business processes also directly affect billable work. According to the CLIO report, the average attorney only generates about 2.4 hours of billable work in an 8-hour day. No attorney will ever deliver 8 hours of billable work in an 8-hour workday. Attorneys need to attend meetings, work on strategic initiatives, market, and build client relationships. But 2.4 billable hours is only 30% of a workday, and is too low to pay for the attorney’s overhead and generate profit for the firm. Many attorneys respond by working longer hours, but a major culprit is inefficient task administration. Improved business processes and technologies help the attorney accomplish tasks faster and better, and enable attorneys to efficiently offload tasks to staff.
Ease and responsiveness play a big part in gaining and retaining clients, and in generating client referrals.
- Hiring the firm. A sense of ease plays an important role in hiring the firm in the first place. Individuals and businesses who have not yet worked with attorneys often feel stressed and overwhelmed, and do not hire the firm. When attorneys are careful to listen to clients and clearly explain the benefits of hiring, clients feel more at ease and open to hiring legal services.
- Client retention. Client retention is also higher if clients are satisfied with prices, and experience responsiveness and ease from their law firm. These qualities also help keep clients in the fold and away from competitive law firms.
- Referrals. The Legal Trends Report created a Net Promoter Score (NPS) to calculate the likelihood that a client will refer peers to their firm. Both ease and responsiveness figured heavily into NPS scores, and high scores increased the chances that a client will refer the firm.