Client experience is a fairly new buzzword in business, but the legal industry, in particular, should be paying attention to the changing landscape of law firm client experience.
Businesses that excel in designing great customer experience grow revenues 4%–8% above their market, according to Bain and Company. A great client experience also increases long-term loyalty, which has an added impact on revenue growth. Traditionally, service providers have been in the position of power. However, industry disruption is happening in nearly every market in the form of competition, online or virtual offerings, and other technologies, pushing all businesses to take client experience not only seriously, but as one of the places to place a lot of their innovation and creativity.
How you represent yourself affects your firm’s success. While you can distinguish yourself through law firm branding, you also need to stand out by providing great, consistent client experience at every stage of your interactions with clients and potential clients. Client experience starts with a potential client’s first interaction with your firm or its marketing content. A great client experience will also influence your referrals, retention rate, and reputation.
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What’s The Difference Between Client Experience and Client Service?
Client experience should not be confused with client service. While the two are related and overlapping concepts, there are important distinctions between them. Generally, client experience is the sum of all interactions a client has with your law firm – the entire journey – from hearing about your firm to closing their case. Client experience is the entire experience of a client’s interactions with your law firm.
Client service, on the other hand, refers to the service-delivery related contacts clients have with your team. Good client service is meant to increase client satisfaction while addressing any issues or questions your clients may have while interacting with your firm.
- Client Experience. Affects and is experienced by all clients. Is the sum of all interactions with your law firm, from website to last the consultation. Helps client feel oriented towards you and your firm. Needs to be proactive and intuitive.
- Client Service. Is a subjective experience for each client during a single point in time when they encounter an issue. It is an interaction with someone from your firm as a client tries to resolve a problem. It is problem oriented and is reactionary by nature.
Law firm client service is often reactive and is implemented when a client has an issue. Client experience is proactive leaves a lasting impression with your client, resulting in how they think and feel about you and your law firm.
Understanding Your Clients
If you haven’t taken the time to develop client personas for your firm, now’s the time to do it. Client personas are descriptions of your ideal client. Your client personas can be as specific as you want them to be, but should at least determine what your ideal client’s wants, needs, and expectations would be.
Knowing your client’s wants and needs can also help you understand how they might be feeling when they come to you for help. You’ll be able to better empathize with your client, helping you create a more personalized and attentive client experience for them. Having your ideal client in mind helps make the details of crafting your client experience clearer. For example, you could have special parking available for expectant mothers, offer coffee and tea in your waiting area, have a chatbot available on your website to help visitors, offer live Q&A sessions on your Facebook page, or write personalized thank you notes or holiday cards to make each client feel special.
For example, you could have special parking available for expectant mothers, offer coffee and tea in your waiting area, have a chatbot available on your website to help visitors, offer live Q&A sessions on your Facebook page, or write personalized thank you notes or holiday cards to make each client feel special.
Create a Clear Law Firm Client Experience Journey
Your client experience journey is the process your client goes through when trying to achieve a goal with your law firm. You should consider how you want people and clients to feel when they interact with your firm. It also helps you stay in control of the relationship and manage client expectations.
What the client experience journey looks like will depend on the client persona. For example, the client journey for someone dealing with probate will be different from someone dealing with trespass issues. A probate client will have different legal needs and will be in a different state emotionally, especially if the will being probated is contested, so you’ll work with them differently than someone who has an oil company pipeline crossing their property. Similarly, the client experience journey will differ whether the client is the plaintiff or defendant in the matter. The plaintiff will have goals of seeking justice or damages for being harmed, and a defendant may want to reduce damage, avoid jail time, or settle the matter as quickly as possible.
Law firm client experience should be centered around your client and organized by different stages your client will go through. Each stage should represent a major milestone in the overall goal for your client during their time with your firm. For each stage of the client experience journey, you should have clear objectives and goals to meet for each stage, and a plan to communicate what you’re doing for your clients to keep them in the loop.
Document each stage of the client journey so you can visualize each milestone and touchpoint. Identify the goals you want to meet and know what tools and technology you will need to achieve those goals. After you’ve created a client journey, get feedback and test it out on yourself identify any pain points or obstacles you encounter so you can fix them or make adjustments along the way.
Sample Law Firm Client Experience Journey From Need to Signing
- Client has potential legal issue, starts to research to learn more about the problem and how to resolve it. Do you have an article that explains your practice area and could give visitors an overview and explanation of their legal problem?
- Client decides she may need an attorney and starts researching attorneys in her area.
- Client discovers your website and starts reading about you, your firm, and how you could help her with her issue. When visitors go to your website, how do you want them to feel? What do you want to convey? Is your website responsive and easy to navigate?
- Client reaches out to contact or meet with you. Is your contact information easy to find? Better yet, do you have an online form clients can fill out?
- You meet with the client, and you start working together on her matter. This is where you can start giving personalized attention to your clients, being proactive with them and where you can start creating client loyalty to you and your firm.
The client experience journey generally starts the same for most clients and will vary after they sign with you depending on their matter and needs. After you develop your client experience journey, try taking it yourself. Try to identify any gaps in the client experience and anticipate potential problems. Documenting your client’s journey also helps you focus your law firm’s perspective, making you more client centered.
Law Firm Client Experience Begins Online
Most new clients will start their client experience with you online. Clients have more options than ever before to research their legal issues and research attorneys before they reach out. Back in 2017, 49% of people research their legal issues before hiring an attorney, with that number jumping to 75.1% for people between the ages of 35-44. And nearly all future clients research an attorney before hiring someone, with most people conducting their research on their phones. This means their first impression of you is what comes up when they Google your name. What might come up are your website, your reviews, and your social media profiles.
Your website is an opportunity to start welcoming people to your firm and to start establishing trust. You’ll want to make sure your website represents your firm and that it is fast, responsive, well-designed, secure, and built for clients, not lawyers. Clients want an attorney they can relate to, so you’ll want to include a page on your site that tells your story about why you exist and what you do better than anybody else. You should also add a practice area page that lists the services you offer and a page that lists your mission and values so your clients will have a positive first impression of you and your firm. Pages that provide visitors more information about you as a person and your law practice help build trust and establish your authority before you even meet your new clients, creating a positive client experience.
Potential clients will also see reviews from your previous clients online too, and those reviews hold weight. Recommendations shared by clients online are viewed as the most credible form of advertising, which means a poor review could hurt your client relationship before they even meet you.
Increasingly, potential clients are also checking out your social media profiles before reaching out to you. Over 69% of people between 18-44 years old would prefer to hire an attorney who is active on social media over one who is not. You’ll want to make sure your social media profiles are in line with the image and client experience you want to convey. And if you have private accounts, make sure your privacy settings are on so you don’t give an impression you don’t want to give to clients.
If you’re not on social media because you’re having trouble deciding what platform you want to be on, we’ll make it easy for you: be where your clients are. Your clients should be able to connect through a channel that’s most convenient to them, whether it’s phone, email, or social media. So if most of your clients are on Facebook, have a Facebook account that you actively monitor.
There are so many different ways to communicate with clients, but at the end of the day, clients want what they’ve always wanted: to feel heard and taken care of. It doesn’t matter where you can be found online, as long as your clients can connect with you.
Creating a Connection With Your Clients
So with all the ways to communicate, how do you start creating a connection with your client? You can start to build trust with your client by letting your personality shine on your website and social media profiles, but creating a lasting connection begins and ends with giving your client personalized attention.
When you meet with your client, and you should be meeting with them in person where possible, ask them questions, be patient, and listen to what they have to say. Treat them with respect, and don’t be afraid to engage with them emotionally or to talk about yourself to relate to their situation. When you truly care about your clients, you’ll naturally want to do your best to help them out. People will feel this sincerity and respond in kind. Be sure to communicate securely with your clients, whether it be by email, phone, or social media. Keeping your clients in the loop and communicating with them regularly helps build trust and a connection with your clients. Without communication from you, your clients will get frustrated, confused, and upset that they don’t know what the status of their case is.
Getting Everyone on Your Team Onboard
All of this thought and planning for your client experience only works if everyone at your firm is onboard. Part of creating a great client experience comes from consistency, and if you’re not consistent within your team you won’t be consistent for your clients. If your clients need to repeat information from your front desk to your associate to you, they’re going to feel frustrated and may create a loss of confidence in your firm.
You will need to develop workflows and documents policies and procedures so everyone at your firm knows how the client experience journey goes and what their responsibilities are within the workflow. You will want to keep track of all client interactions and data in a single place. Most CRM software and law practice management software has features to consolidate client communications into a single system, so. you and others in your firm can easily keep track of your client’s information.
Most importantly, everyone at your firm should have a common purpose and idea of what you want your client experience to be on every level at every stage. It should serve as the foundation for all your client interactions and should represent the “Why” in your practice so everyone at your firm can provide a consistent and excellent client experience.
Capturing Feedback in Real Time
You’ll always want your clients to have the best experience when they interact with your firm, and this includes finding pain points and obstacles so you can improve them. One way you can get feedback is by asking clients to leave reviews on Google, Yelp, or Avvo, for example. You can also gather testimonials and use them in success stories or on your site and other marketing materials. You can get immediate feedback from clients by simply asking them. Whether you’re meeting them in person or talking with them on the phone, you can ask how happy they are with their experience.
If you’re worried people won’t be transparent, you can always implement a standardized process for gathering feedback from clients, then find ways to incorporate this feedback into your client experience journey. An easy way to get feedback is through surveys or online questionnaires. Depending on whether they were just visitors to your website or current clients, you could ask them:
- How did you hear about our law firm?
- What attracted you to our website?
- Did you want to interact with us, but didn’t reach out? Why?
- How was your interaction with us?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy was it to navigate our website?
- How would you rate your experience with our law firm?
Your clients know about client experience with your firm better than you do. It’s important to get their feedback on where you can improve so you can ensure you’re providing a positive client experience.
How to Measure ROI
Start by reviewing your client experience journey and asking yourself what meaningful feedback you could get from each step of the journey. To measure the ROI of your client experience, you have to decide what you’re going to measure on the business side of things, what you’re going to measure on the client experience side, and how to correlate those two things. For example, maybe after implementing a free in-person consultation, you’ll see the number of new clients increase. You could see how being more active on your Facebook profile increases visitors to your website. A positive or negative client experience can affect anything from referrals, reviews, retention, and revenue. As you establish metrics to measure ROI, make sure they focus on capturing client feedback that links to business outcomes.
Embracing clients and providing a positive client experience can help shift the attitude and perspective of your firm to become more client-centered. Providing a great client experience not only helps improve the life of your clients but can also improve your firm’s bottom line. If you’re ready to learn more and become one of our future-oriented, client-centered law firms, join the community today by becoming a Lawyerist Insider.