According to the 2017 Legal Trends Report, lawyers bill for just 2.3 hours of their working days on average. That leaves a lot of time being spent on non-billable work.
Where does the time go? The report found that 33% of lawyers’ non-billable time goes to business development, suggesting that securing new clients is top-of-mind for lawyers. However, while networking and marketing can certainly be helpful, providing better client service may take less time and bring better results—leaving lawyers more time for billable work, or for their families.
With shifts in demographics and the way people use technology, there are alternative ways that lawyers can improve efficiency and scale business-development efforts that will ultimately help them earn and keep more clients with less effort. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Respond to potential clients faster
The time that it takes for clients to find your law practice and get a response can greatly impact whether they end up hiring you or not. According to the 2017 Legal Trends Report, 67% of consumers choose a lawyer based on who responds to their requests right away. They expect reliability and want to invest in someone who is reciprocally invested in them.
When it comes to their preferred method of communication, 27% of people said the most important factor in their decision to hire a lawyer was the ability to exchange texts.
Texting clients back and forth from a personal cell phone can be cumbersome and time consuming, but you can leverage technology to help manage inbound requests more effectively and get back to potential clients right away. Zipwhip, for example, allows you to send and receive text messages from your firm’s existing business phone number, on any internet-connected device, so you can be available in the way your clients expect while staying professional. This allows for faster communication with potential clients, and empowers attorneys and staff to keep accurate records of all client conversations in a centralized place.
2. Keep your clients happy to increase your chance of referral
The 2017 Legal Trends Report also found that 62% of people seek legal counsel through a referral from their personal networks. Once you’ve secured a new client, it’s important to keep them satisfied with your services so they are more inclined to recommend you to their friends and family.
There are many factors that clients consider when evaluating a lawyer, and data can help shed light on what matters most. For example, clients value free consultations (64% said it was the most important factor for them), and additional payment options (one in five Americans say they prefer to pay for legal services by credit card).
Understanding your client’s preferences and addressing their pain points can help you strengthen your relationship and increase your chances of receiving referrals.
For example, if your clients prefer to pay for your services by credit card, consider accepting credit card payments. Read up on how to choose a credit card processor that works for your firm, and go from there. Bonus: The 2017 Legal Trends Report has found that accepting credit card payments will also get you paid faster.
3. Adapt to clients’ future needs
The consumer landscape is evolving, and it will continue to do so. As millennials grow older, they’ll make up more of the consumer market. It’s necessary to acknowledge how this demographic prefers to communicate so that law firms can better predict and prepare for changing consumer expectations over time.
As it turns out, nearly one out of five millennials say that they would prefer to text message or email a lawyer over speaking on the phone, and 30% would prefer to use technology to share legal documents.
Business texting is a seamless solution that allows law firms to share important documents and images quickly through secure SMS and picture messaging (MMS).
It’s also an advantageous tool for lawyers in that it helps keep personal conversations separate from business ones. There’s no need to give out your personal phone number to talk to clients; your firm can use a tool such as Zipwhip to manage all client conversations.
If your firm is interested in enhancing its customer experience through clear and flexible communication, consider investing in conversational texting software to maximize efficiency on a medium that your clients prefer.
Using data to get (and keep) clients
It is imperative that lawyers and law firms use data to make smart business decisions. The 2017 Legal Trends Report is a great resource that provides in-depth analysis about consumer expectations and the legal industry, which law firms can use to improve to their business efforts.
Sometimes, it’s the medium, not the message, that matters. Download Zipwhip for a business texting solution that integrates directly with Clio.
Allison Josephy Key is a Sales Manager at Zipwhip Texting, where she heads up two industry verticals, Legal and Wedding/Events. Her focus with her team of seven is to ensure that clients get the absolute most out of the Zipwhip product through client discovery, training, and development. Prior to Zipwhip, Allison was a Casting Producer for the A&E Television series “Hoarders.”