News flash: when clients want to talk with a lawyer, they prefer old-fashioned human conversation over a text, email or chatbot.
And if they feel they’re not getting the personal touch, they won’t hesitate to turn elsewhere.
Those findings are from a 2018 survey by the Sitel Group, which provides Client Experience (CX) solutions. The survey shows that while automation and artificial intelligence can boost efficiency, it might do so at the expense of client satisfaction.
“The majority (75 percent) of U.S. consumers would stop doing business with a company if they received poor customer support or had a bad experience,” according to the survey. “What’s more, half of consumers (50 percent) say they have stopped doing business with a brand in the past year due to a negative customer experience.”
The big takeaway is that lawyers who interact with their clients consistently and meaningfully will have a leg up on those who rely on automated shortcuts. Even better: their clients will be willing to pay higher fees.
“That poses a big opportunity for one-person businesses and small firms where the owners are willing to interact with customers every day,” writes Elaine Pofeldt for Forbes. “Many consumers and businesses still value what real humans can bring to the table and some will pay for it, even when it costs more. Leaning into the fact that there’s a live person behind it all can be an incredible competitive advantage.”
Hi, I’m a Living Breathing Human
It’s smart to use technology in your practice. But if Client Experience suffers as a result, you’d better add the personal touch if you want your practice to soar.
Here are 7 easy ways to do that:
- Explain things. For many clients, the law is a bewildering bog. Take time to educate them. Let them know what to expect. Tell them how long their case should take and what it should cost. No machine will ever be able to do this as well as you can.
- Show empathy. Emotional intelligence, not artificial intelligence, is the way to build lasting relationships.
- Get on a first-name basis. Your clients want to be seen, heard and understood. This starts by looking them in the eye and saying their name, advises Denise Chan in this Business2Community piece. One caveat: make sure it’s okay to use their first name. Ask them in the initial interview how they prefer to be addressed.
- Mail your clients birthday greetings and holiday cards. Sign it and add a personal greeting. “Stone age, you say? I don’t agree,” says Maria Lebed in this blogpost for the CX site Product Support. “The effect such a personal gesture has is proportionate to the level of effort it takes to make it. It does take time to choose, to sign and mail a card, but it takes a rare human being to ignore or forget such a nice and personal outreach. Especially in modern times as less and less companies are doing it, it’s a good way to stand out and be remembered.” Pro tip: include your business card with the note.
- Stay a step ahead of your client. Give a divorce client information on day care options. Invite a small business client to join the local Chamber of Commerce or a leads group. Tell a bankruptcy client about the Managing Your Finances course offered at the nearby community college.
- Send a hand-written note for no reason at all. “It could be something very simple, like ‘I hope you are having a great day today,’” says Lebed. “Or you can reference a past conversation with a client if it feels relevant.”
- Say “thank you.” Let them know you appreciate their business and hope they come back if they need you in the future.
What tips do you have for adding the personal touch to client relations?