Communications with clients has always been very important. Due to the current climate, it is even now more important to ensure that clients are receiving the communications that they want, in the format that they want, and when they want it. Proper communication from everyone in a firm will have a positive impact on clients and will increase the firm’s overall success. These communications include but are not limited to texts, emails, voicemails, websites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter posts and other platforms.
Clients expect to be treated appropriately, in a timely manner, and with accurate information. Prior to the pandemic more than half of polled clients preferred in-person communications. The pandemic has changed this preference for many clients. Today, with the various platforms and social media venues, it is important that lawyers once again pivot to their clients’ needs and expectations.
When communicating on social media, make sure that the communication is worth the time it takes to review it. And make sure that the communication cannot be easily misunderstood. Human communication is most effective with body language and voice inflection. For this reason, podcasts and videos certainly provide a good form of client communications. But these offerings have to be short enough not to lose the attention of the viewer—the average attention span is now shorter than in the past. When creating new podcasts and video presentations, spend the money to hire a professional to ensure that the podcast has adequate lighting, appropriate voice volume and backgrounds, and that those in the video are appropriately attired. Be careful to keep the message free from legal jargon and/or disclaimers and remember that such communications do not go away; they are recorded and should be considered permanent.
People are checking social media, emails, and texts throughout each day. When the appropriate type of message is an email, voicemail, or text message, it should be sent during normal business hours and not at 7 PM on a Sunday evening. If, however, the message is being shared on social media, it makes sense to publish it outside of normal business hours. Today, people are checking these accounts at their leisure.
When choosing a video conferencing application, please check with the client to ensure that it is their preferred medium. For instance, if Zoom is preferred, be the one to set up the meeting and invite the client with a 15-30-minute reminder.
It is important to set expectations. What does the audience expect to get out of the interaction? When arranging a communication, be sure to highlight what will be learned or achieved by participating.
If a communication is dealing with a current client and matter, make very sure there is an agenda and that it is communicated prior to the meeting. If the agenda is available, it can be sent, with any handouts, when the meeting is scheduled. It can be attached to the calendar invitation.
When using a new software application, practice with a colleague prior to using it with a client. Microsoft Teams is different than Zoom. Know the difference. Make sure speakers and visuals are working appropriately.
Even though communications are not in person, it is important to remember “people skills.” Remember that others on the communication want to be heard and informed. These people skills have to be shared with everyone in the firm. Customer service is key. Most new business is a result of current clients’ recommendations and referrals.
Websites are today’s virtual reception areas. Make sure that when anyone accesses the firm’s website, that there is a “call to action,” meaning the visitor can easily ask for help. The visitor should also easily determine the services provided without a lot of clicks and navigation. Monitoring website activity is very helpful to determine its effectiveness.
When communicating electronically, it is important to remember the European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protections Regulation) and the CCPA (California’s Consumer Privacy Act) regulations. Comply, even if not doing business in either of these geographic areas. It is just a matter of time before similar restrictions will be instituted throughout the rest of the world. Many ethics complaints (professional liability claims) are initiated because clients do not believe that they received the appropriate amount of communication and in a timely manner.
The legal industry is the profession most frequently compromised by the “bad guys.” Make sure all communications are secure and encrypted. Never share any confidential information on any social media platform. The weakest link in any organization is the human factor.
Today, there are many great options for providing strong client communication. There are many software applications to help attorneys easily communicate in a consistent manner. Clients can access portals where they can review documents as needed. These portals are very secure.
Good client communication is key to every lawyer’s success. Better communication leads to stronger client experiences, increased positive reviews, and more referrals.
Published by Zola Suite