Darren Gower (pictured), Marketing Director at Eclipse spoke to LPM Magazine to discuss how law firms can better engage with clients.
Few firms look closely at ways to shift how a service is delivered, as long as they feel they’re keeping up with the status quo. That’s especially true for SME firms who don’t have the enormous resources that big, international firms have to throw at innovation initiatives or business development. And, the sector being what it is, the shadow of regulation is a constant threat. Taking a more proactive stance towards delivering the very best service for your customers can become a matter of self-preservation, because one cost-effective way to tackle uncertainty is to get existing clients into the repeat business loop. But ultimately, it’s about improving services for clients.
There are plenty of things your firm can do to keep clients coming back. A few tweaks to the way that things are done when onboarding and looking after clients can actually make a law firm stand out from the competition to a surprising extent.
To start, you need to take a look at whether your systems are up to scratch. I tend to see too much underachievement in SME law firms – many opportunities aren’t taken. For example, firms aren’t taking advantage of how clients interact with them online. The vast majority of experiences with a law firm are manual, whether you’re buying a house or making an injury claim – it can be like wading through treacle. Making things easy and reliable for clients is key. Unfortunately, very few firms in the SME space have fully embraced some of the basic tools that can make their services slicker and simpler. These may not necessarily be cutting-edge, but they aren’t hideously expensive. Put the destiny of the client’s case file in their own hands and enable them to see what’s going on with their matter online. Uploading documents to a portal rather than posting them through a letterbox can make a world of difference for clients – as well as cutting down time taken to respond.
To better engage with clients, you should be collecting as much data as you can, which will help you to spot opportunities and better cross-sell. But to achieve that you need someone within the practice, whether that’s a partner in charge of growth or someone similar, who can take on these responsibilities. It’s up to that person to know which information is relevant to the business, how it’s stored and can be used going forward, and to make sure it’s accurate. The best time to collect data is during onboarding, but don’t just rely on an over worked paralegal or whoever is dealing with the case to collect it. It should be approached as a key exercise – you need people who are trained to do it, with the proper tools to get that information in a useable format.
Once the right questions are being asked and the correct data is being gathered, the next step is to have that data recorded in a centralised location. You can’t have silos of information where you’re asking the same questions but storing the information in separate places – that’s messy and terrible for your strategy; keeping one, central source of truth to work from is crucial.
After data is collected, the firm should have a clear strategy for how it’s used and, if possible, apply it to your processes. The objectives need to be quite tight and well-defined, whether you have a routine review to try to support opportunities, or a technological solution – it’s important to make the most of the clients you have.