How Lawyers Can Increase Client Retention by Using a Service Hub
Lawyers get a bad rap. A few bad apples combined with hundreds of factors outside of their control give the profession a bad name when it comes to customer satisfaction. We can all think of “attorney” jokes that paint pictures of deeply unhappy clients. The pervasive cultural narrative around lawyers and the nature of the legal system make it hard for law firms to improve customer satisfaction scores.
But as legal tech improves, and disruptive companies encroach on law firms, it’s more important than ever for firms to focus on building profitable long-term relationships with happy customers.
Kory Kelly is a tech entrepreneur and founder of Legal Karma. He’s passionate about increasing client satisfaction through better communication. He sat down to talk through how customer satisfaction can help lawyers retain customers and avoid malpractice claims.
Kory tackles the following topics in this blog:
- It’s Much Cheaper to Retain a Client Than to Acquire a Client
- Remote Work Made Customer Retention Harder
- Client Communication Is a Problem in the Industry
- Poor Client Communication Is Frustrating for Everyone
- Case Management Software Is Only Part Of the Solution
- Client Communication Platforms Provide an Answer
- Good Communication and Documentation Practices Reduces Your Malpractice Risk
It’s Much Cheaper to Retain a Client Than to Acquire a Client
Client retention is more important than acquisition. Much of the cost to sign on a new client is front-loaded in the customer life cycle. There are multiple crucial, but relatively low-value steps, that take place early on in the journey from becoming a prospect to a client. Such as:
- Advertising your firm
- Conducting initial client consultations
- Client onboarding and processing
- Client document review
Most of these lower-value tasks only need to be done once. When an existing client comes to you for additional services, you’re given a shortcut to high-value billable work. However, effectively using “land and expand” techniques in your firm will rely heavily on making sure your clients are happy.
Remote Work Made Customer Retention Harder
Because of the pandemic, lawyers were pushed into a completely remote work environment for the first time. Suddenly we all lost access to face-to-face connections – these in person connections can be particularly vital in the legal profession. This loss placed a huge burden on client communication having to rely solely on emails and phone calls.
The chances for a misunderstanding or miscommunication to occur skyrocketed. This type of confusion creates an environment where clients feel as if they aren’t being cared for, listened to, or informed.
Client Communication Is a Problem in the Legal Industry
State bar associations require firms to keep their clients thoroughly informed. In most cases, attorneys genuinely try to keep their clients fully apprised on their matter. But it’s hard. In many cases they’re stuck trying to give clients a crash course on the legal system and its terminology. When you’re dealing with different types of cases, and personalities, it can be challenging to make sure everyone understands what’s going on and is on the same page.
According to the ABA, the challenge to making sure all clients are fully informed is so considerable, the number one complaint received by every state bar is that the lawyer didn’t keep the client fully apprised of their matter. This highlights just how many firms struggle with client communication.
Poor Client Communication Is Frustrating for Everyone
The industry has a twofold problem on its hands. Making sure a client fully understands what’s required of them can be difficult. Attorneys are forced into being project managers in order to practice law. Firms that aren’t good at project management may end up asking the client for the same document multiple times and charging a filing fee each time. When this happens, you will see client satisfaction numbers sharply decline.
But it isn’t just the clients who are unhappy with how the system works. During our market research before starting Legal Karma, we interviewed 200 firms. Every single firm we interviewed, across multiple Areas of Practice (AOP’s), said it’s hard to keep clients informed. It’s not uncommon for a client to have only one legal matter to resolve in their entire lives. When that’s the case, there is an understandable lack of familiarity between the client and legal process. So, lawyers find themselves answering the same question multiple times or having to repeatedly remind clients to send required documentation.
It's a bad situation for everyone. The bar is required to investigate each complaint regarding lawyers failing to communicate. Clients are trying to understand the sometimes byzantine details of their matter. And lawyers are stuck teaching clients instead of practicing the parts of law that got them into the profession.
Case Management Software Is Only Part Of the Solution
Over the last few years, legal case management software has been a big help for lawyers. It’s gotten easier to internally track cases, deadlines, and documents. As the industry has modernized and adopted case management solutions, attorney-caused errors have gone down.
But, most legal case management platforms don’t do much to help the firm communicate and inform clients. Case management is an integral piece of the puzzle, but it doesn’t address client satisfaction (through communication) and retention.
Client Communication Platforms Provide an Answer
Legal case management software gives a firm’s employees a single source of truth which they can use to stay up to date on their caseload. Clients need access to something similar, a place where they can self-serve information on their matter.
Client communication software provides exactly that, a user-friendly portal where clients can see their responsibilities and next steps. Legal communication software as a service really lets firms take more control over their client satisfaction and retention. Even small firms can use software to give their clients the type of accessible user experience that tax software has done for years.
When firms can provide a clear roadmap for their clients, it helps them set expectations. It reduces confusion and helps clients feel more in control and informed about their matter.
Good Communication and Documentation Practices Reduces Your Malpractice Risk
When both the attorney and the client have a single source of truth, they can remove confusion regarding who is waiting on whom. Instead of interacting across multiple channels like email, text, phone, and in-person meetings, all communication stays on a single platform which is backed up to the cloud. This protects your firm in two ways:
- Clients are less likely to be confused when their case roadmap is clearly laid out in one place.
- Malpractice claims are cheaper and easier to resolve because you have a clear digital paper trail.
Using a client communication tool, in combination with case management software, saves firms time and money by protecting them from malpractice claims and reducing the number of hours spent repeating instructions to clients.
It’s a low bar to excellent client satisfaction. Client communication tools are brand new, and a lot of attorneys are bad at project management. Now is the time for tech-savvy firms to set themselves apart from the crowd and take control of their customer retention.
As legislation changes in places like Arizona takes effect, entrepreneurial companies are being given an opportunity to completely disrupt how customer acquisition is conducted in the legal industry. How small firms use software to attract and retain clients may end up being the difference between firms who succeed and firms who fail.
Daniels-Head Insurance Agency (DHIA) seeks thoughts and insights from a variety of individuals and organizations in the industry. The guest content on this blog represents the individual opinion of the author and not that of DHIA. Nor is it the opinion of DHIA’s underwriters and business partners. Neither DHIA nor DHIA’s business partners are recommending, endorsing, or sponsoring any companies, or third parties mentioned in this blog.