Effective client communication is a topic that can be easily overlooked in the day-to-day management of a firm but can play a major role in its success — or failure. Today’s clients demand a higher level of professional, timely customer service and firms that ignore this trend do so at their own peril.
- These days, one of the biggest challenges that lawyers face is meeting their client’s communication needs. In fact, the failure to adequately communicate is one of the top state bar complaints made by clients against lawyers. This has always been the case but in recent years has been compounded by the fact that 21st century consumers have access to whatever they want, no matter what time of day or night. Whether it’s information, instant streaming of music, movies, and televisions shows, or 24/7 online shopping, today’s consumers can get whatever they want–whenever they want it. Legal clients are no different.
At the end of the day legal consumers want instant access — not to a product that they’ve purchased — but to information about the legal services that they’ve retained you to provide. In other words — they want to know what’s going on with their case. Can you blame them? They’ve paid you a lot of money and simply want to know where things stand. But, how best to do that? Sometimes another’s client’s case takes precedence or you’re stuck in court all day. It’s a fact of life — attorneys are busy. Sometimes you’re too pressed for time and simply can’t call them back immediately.
However, your client’s need for 24/7 access to information must be balanced with the requirement to maintain attorney-client confidentiality, a concept that is the very foundation of relationships between lawyers and their clients. Client trust would be eroded in the absence of this strict obligation of maintaining confidentiality. It is only because clients know that their communications with legal counsel are deemed confidential that they’re able to provide their attorneys with a full description of the underlying facts and issues that lead them to seek assistance in the first place.
The good news is that with different all of the 21st century technologies, you have a lot of options when it comes to client communications — the trick is knowing which ones will be best for your law firm’s needs. If you haven’t given much thought to the effectiveness of your client communications previously, incorporating a few new tools and techniques into your client interactions is a great place to start. Here are a few ideas.