Marketing Resources

Customer Service: Why Law Firms Can't Underestimate its Importance

5 minutes

Carrie Tennick, senior digital content specialist, August 05, 2021

Customer service. It’s not just for contact centres. Your law firm’s success could depend on the service your call handlers deliver to clients and prospective clients.

That may sound like an exaggeration. But there is a huge amount riding on the way your people deal with clients.

You can’t afford to underestimate how important customer service is to your firm.

Why it’s important

Satisfied clients end up that way because of the way you made them feel. Many other solicitors could get them the outcome you achieved for them – but they’ll remember how you made their legal journey as stress-free as possible.

Word of mouth referrals are an important source of revenue is for local businesses, like law firms. Our Choosing a Lawyer white paper explains that 27% of personal injury consumers choose a legal provider based on recommendations. To be able to secure the positive feedback and reviews that result in these referrals, you’ll need to make clients feel valued, respected and well-treated.

On the other side of the coin is the fact dissatisfied clients will share that negative feeling with others. Salesforce found that 62% of customers reported that they have shared bad customer experiences.

The software provider also found that 80% of customers think the experience a firm provides is as important as its services. So it can’t be understated – customer service is an essential element of your firm’s operations. It’s not something you can realistically avoid. But there are some straightforward things you can do to provide a great experience.

  • Address issues

Customer service isn’t just about preventing any problems in the first instance. It’s also about addressing them when they do occur. A survey by RightNow – now Oracle – found that 79% of people who complained about poor customer service online received no response from the company responsible.

This is a huge missed opportunity by organisations. Ensuring that no complaint about your firm goes unaddressed can set it apart from the competition. It can also help that dissatisfied client to see your firm more positively.

Assuring a client that their concerns are valid, that you understand the problem and that it won’t happen again can make their overall experience more positive. This can be seen in the results of the RightNow survey – 57% of people who did receive a response after posting online had a positive reaction to that organisation.

As we explain in our guide to encouraging online reviews, negative opinions being shared can still represent an opportunity. It can help to salvage a negative experience and also help other people seeing these interactions realise that your firm is taking these allegations seriously and that what happened was a one-off.

  • Easy access

One aspect of quality customer service is ensuring people don’t have to go out of their way to speak to your firm. Take advantage of technology to meet prospective clients where they are.

Making sure that you give people options to contact you is vital. Your competitors are making use of social media, live chat, chat bots and other systems to connect with people. To neglect these tools is to put yourself at a disadvantage.

In research from 2019, Salesforce found that customers were looking to be assisted through social media, online forms, FAQs, messenger apps, live chat and discussion forums – as well as other channels.

With the world going online during the pandemic, this preference for digital will only have been reinforced. So don’t underestimate its importance in delivering the kind of service your clients appreciate.

  • Offer guidance

People tend to need the services of a solicitor when they’re going through something stressful – whether that’s an injury claim, dealing with probate or buying a home. Emotions are heightened. They’ll be looking for a little bit of understanding and a call handler who can reassure them.

Ensuring your team can offer genuine empathy with clients will go a long way towards a positive experience for them. But your call handlers will also have to direct the conversation and get your potential client the help they need as soon as possible.

A study in the Harvard Business Review found that customer service representatives who are comfortable taking control, demonstrating their expertise and building a plan perform best in terms of customer outcomes. So think about these traits when you need to augment your team.

Your call handlers and your fee earners all play a part in guiding clients through their legal journey. It’s therefore important to include all client-facing team members in any customer service training your firm implements. After all, it’s your solicitors and case managers that a client will remember after the fact.

  • Quick responses

Potential clients will always get in touch with you out of hours. It’s up to you to manage this and ensure that you’re not losing out on potential business.

That means having the right systems in place to capture details and getting back to them as soon as possible. After all, people have options and don’t have to wait around for you to get in touch. They could easily contact a competitor while they wait for you to get in touch.

Highlighting the importance of a speedy response is an NM Incite survey, which found that 33% of people would recommend a company to others after receiving a quick but ineffective social media response. This dropped to just 17% when the response was effective but too slow. Rapidity, therefore, wins out.

This is, unfortunately, not something that every law firm has discovered. In our Creating a Customer-First Culture white paper, we highlight that 67% of people who called a firm after hours hadn’t been able to speak to a fee earner two days later, while just 44% of firms responded to a Facebook enquiry within two hours. A disappointing 32% didn’t respond at all. Something to bear in mind for firms looking to get ahead of the competition.

Serving customers

The Salesforce research cited above found that 82% of companies say their customer service has to transform in order to remain competitive. This shows that your firm certainly can’t afford to forget about this aspect of its offering.

So start by analysing your current customer service level. Evaluate where you stand compared to your competitors.

Then identify areas you could improve on. This can form the basis of an action plan to improve the customer service offered by your entire firm. And when the reviews and referrals roll in, this can have a significant impact on your bottom line.

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