When working with a lawyer, the client has been through a trauma. Something bad in their life happened and it is most often unfamiliar territory for them. Every time they have a new thought, idea or question they are either calling you or emailing you. This can get overwhelming for the attorney, paralegals, and office staff. The repeatedly ringing phone or dinging email box is distracting.
I found that if a client was not answered they were often trying back within 20 minutes wondering why no one ever got back to them.
Our law firm had on average of 500 cases running at a time. If even a small percentage of those clients were calling daily or weekly, no one would get anything accomplished because we would have been on the phone or emailing responses all day every day.
Another fact in the law field is that clients tend to call right when they think of something. Regardless of the hour. I remember a client calling to ask me a question at 2:00am. Obviously I did not answer at that time.
Also, a well-known fact is that the number one complaint to the bar associations, and source of bad online reviews is lack of communication.
So what can you do to ease the burden of the constant stream of questions and communications?
The solution is simple – but you must stick with it.
- Set your boundaries. Decide what time you wish to commit to client communications. Block this time out on your calendar so you are more committed to the time block. Ask your staff to do the same
- Preferred way to communicate. Some people prefer email, others text, and yet other prefer phone calls. Decide which is best for you.
- Do not take every call, text, and email. If you have paralegals working on those cases, ask them to communicate first. Most likely they are more familiar with the day-to-day workings of that case. Save your communication time for the questions that cannot be answered by the paralegals and office.
- Have a Client Communication Contract – get it signed. Let clients know up front what your office’s communication policy is. Spell it out for them how long they can expect as a wait time for a response. Let them know your preferred means of communications and when you are available to communicate.
A client communication contract is vital to you running a practice with minimal interruptions. It is also important that you are very specific and that the clients review this contract with you and sign that they understand.
In my coaching and consulting I will help you prepare this contract for you and your firm so that you only must do this once. If you do not set these boundaries with your clients, they will call every time they have a new thought. They will also fill your email box with multiple questions.
Contact me today to discuss how we can create a smoother workflow, free up some of your time, and improve the overall quality of your work and personal life.