Client engagement is a broad term. Ask a panel of legal professionals what those two little words mean and you’re likely to get a wide variety of answers. Some of those responses will depend on the individual and how closely they work with the clients. Other answers will be informed by the law firm’s culture and approach. Still others will respond based on their current capabilities – and what they wish they could do with client engagement.
The point is, it’s almost too much to consider at times. Is client engagement about responsiveness? Customer care? User experience? Legal service delivery? Marketing?
Each of these things (and more) do indeed matter to firms and clients. But they’re not all created equal. Some are more feasible than others. Some are more important to the client than the firm. And some are simply far more urgent, with the potential to affect your bottom line if left unaddressed. What’s needed is a disciplined perspective. A framework firms can use to organize the elements of client engagement and to define the behaviors and technology needed to move forward.
Remember the days when paperwork had to be manually passed from one person to another? It was almost impossible for clients and legal teams alike to gain access back, with all crucial information safely hidden away. This lack of connection created a barrier between them - not engagement - but division instead.
Secure and intuitive access to your firm, personnel, and clients' work removes the uncertainty that can come with legal matters. By granting visibility into projects from start to finish - whenever a client needs it- you foster stronger relationships between yourself and them. Streamlining document sharing for review or approval allows everyone involved in cases know what’s happening without having to hunt down updates themselves.
In today's global world, providing customers with up-to-date information is the key to success. From tracking numbers on FedEx packages to ETAs from Uber, technology has made it easier than ever for individuals and businesses alike to stay connected during a transaction. This newfound awareness does more than just keep people informed - in many cases, knowing what’s going on behind the scenes provides an emotional connection between customers and their purchases that creates trust and builds anticipation as they await completion of their orders. Even ordering something seemingly mundane like pizza can provide satisfaction when you're able view your order progress step by step.
Those examples might seem trivial, but by giving your clients an awareness of their legal matter, you’re opening up a whole new world of client engagement. Even valuable services like yours are still a significant line item on the client’s own expense account. It’s important to deliver that value in a way that is obvious and consistent. Obvious because no client should have to wonder where they stand. Consistent because it breeds trust and loyalty in a highly competitive market.
Want to actually engage your clients and see a ROI on your portals and digital tools? Make those places functional. Access and awareness are vital, but effective client engagement includes more than showing and sharing alone. It needs to have an element of action. Ask yourself what is possible given the legal technology at your disposal, then make it a reality.
The actions your firm sets before your clients may overlap with the access discussed above. Document management and signatures spring to mind. But today’s flexible and powerful platforms can be used to create so much more. Imagine customized workflows and toolkits that align your firm’s capabilities with client needs. Interactive document builders and self-service legal experiences – all delivered in a digital experience that reflects today’s remote workforce.
It’s an understatement to say that client engagement is a deep dive. No single blog post or article can hold all the secrets to success in this arena. But if your law firm is looking for a way to think about client engagement – especially from a digital or technological perspective – consider the AAA approach: access, awareness, and action. Hit these three marks, and your firm will be on the road to success.