It’s a question we often get from our law firm customers and one that’s top of the agenda for many senior partners and managers in the legal sector. In this article, we look at why legal client experience is now one of the most important parts of a successful law firm’s strategy and some top tips for law firms to consider.
The evolution of client expectations
Law firm clients, like most other sector consumers, always change but the speed of this more recently has been particularly pronounced. We all spend an inordinate amount of time online with so much of our everyday lives using a phone or tablet. The ‘digital economy’ that we now live in and the way we interact online and with our providers has shaped the way many of us expect services to be delivered to us. The following stats evidence the scale of change to online purchasing and activity in recent times.
- In 2022, an estimated 93% of the UK adult population will be using some form of online banking
- By the end of 2022, ecommerce sales are expected to reach $5.42 trillion worldwide
- In 2022, the mobile share of the overall web traffic market share is at 46.41%.
- Two-thirds of adults worldwide now make or receive a digital payment
- More than 41% of customers expect live chat on your website
Law firm clients are influenced by their experiences in other aspects of their life and while many still want the option to see solicitors and lawyers face-to-face, they also want to be able to interact with firms online. Engaging consumer friendly websites, live chat functionality, client portals, mobile applications, online instant quotations and online payments are all technologies which have long been used in other sectors which have become more important within the legal sector.
In our recent whitepaper, What can law firms learn from consumer-centric sectors?, we look at what law firms can learn from other sectors, particularly those who’ve already made strides on their digital transformation journey such as retail, financial services and insurance.
Should I have a client portal?
In short yes. Many successful law firms use a client portal which enables the customer to self-serve and complete tasks online at a time and place that’s most convenient to them. Many client portals, such as those provided by Access Legal case management software, also offer a secure messaging service so the client and fee earner can quickly and easily contact one another without prolonged email exchanges and reduce the amount of required phone calls. With online interactions, being facilitated by a portal, the whole process can be concluded much quicker as documents are shared and signed electronically without wasting time waiting for postal paper copies to arrive. The task management and real-time progress updates also speed up the process as the client and the fee earner can clearly see what’s been done and what’s next. From a law firms perspective, the increased efficiencies in the process and cost savings from reduced postage and paper usage improve the overall profitability. So everyone wins!
What other legal technology can improve client experience?
As previously evidenced, online banking and paying bills online has become today’s norm. Another report states that in 2021 a little over 1 in 4 adults in the UK (27%) opened a digital-only bank account and this figure is expected to increase. All this points to a requirement for law firms to offer payment options which meet the expectations of today’s ‘always on’, digital customer. Clients want the ease to quickly pay at a time that’s most suitable to them.
Many firms already use online payment solutions and reports suggest that growing firms are 37% more likely to use online payments. This provides the option of easier payments for the customer but also there’s tangible benefits for the law firm beyond the obvious improvement in collection rates. Firms that offer an online payments that integrate efficiently into a case management system, allow fee earners to reduce admin time and be more productive.
Clients, like Fee Earners, lead busy lives and are often time-poor during the working hours of the day. Evidence suggests that the peak hour for people researching and shopping online is between 8pm and 9pm, with sales volumes consistently high from 3pm before dropping after 10pm. With many of your prospective clients looking for services online out of hours, it’s vital that your website is engaging and user friendly to give you the best chance to win new business. Key to this is an automated quotation tool which can produce branded quotes, in real-time, and share information back seamlessly to your case management system. This will allow you maximise your firms opportunity to generate new business, securely store data in your system and meet the expectations of today’s digitally focused client.
If your clients are happy, get them to share it!
Once you’ve onboarded a client and delivered fantastic services, do you always share the success? If your client is happy why not ask for a testimonial to share their positive experience. With 57 million of us using social media it’s a great place to generate brand awareness through customer advocacy. Other mediums for sharing positive stories include review sites such as Trustpilot. With the use of comparison sites by clients when choosing firms becoming more prevalent, good reviews will become even more important in the future.
Toby Sewell is Divisional Marketing Manager at Access Legal.
 Analysis conducted by finder.com – https://www.finder.com/uk/digital-banking-statistics
 Clio’s 2021 Legal Trends Report