12 tips to improve your legal client onboarding process

Want to provide the very best welcome to incoming clients that you can? Try these options for boosting your onboarding process.

A positive onboarding experience puts legal clients at ease, confirming that they made the best choice when retaining you and your firm as their legal counsel. Here are 11 ways to enhance your firm’s client onboarding experience that will help you get new clients and maintain those you already have:

#1: Be client-focused

Everything about a law firm, including its waiting room, website, policies, employees, and atmosphere, should make clients feel comfortable and get the information they want and need quickly and easily. Provide an atmosphere that is welcoming and shows that you put quality effort into your brand and space. This speaks to how you will handle their needs and assures them that they are in the right place.

#2: Be accessible

When a client locates your law firm online and sends you an inquiry, what happens next? If you don’t have a process in place to field initial client requests, you’re likely wasting a valuable source for leads and potential business for the firm. Developing a communications plan that reflects how you want clients to go through your customer lifecycle is a great way to prepare and develop strategies to assist with client onboarding.

#3: Be helpful

Provide all new clients with a welcome kit that:

  • Introduces new clients to the firm
  • Offers important information about billing practices
  • Gives them a list of key contacts within the firm
  • Briefly summarizes the various stages of the case and the overall process
  • Explicitly lays out what you will need from them to obtain a favorable outcome
  • Lists the best practices of how to best work with your firm
  • Includes a hand-written thank you note that expresses that you appreciate their business

#4: Be genuine

A landmark survey by the American Bar Association found that 69 percent of those surveys believed that “lawyers are more interested in making money than in serving their clients.” If your clients think you are only in it for the money, they are more likely to look for legal representation elsewhere, where the customer service appears to be better. Provide quality service that shows your clients why your firm is as successful as it is.

#5: Be attentive

While everyone knows that no law firm can flourish with just one client, clients still expect to be provided with a certain level of personal attention that reflects how much they are paying. Legal support staff needs to make clients feel like their case is a top priority to maintain the trust they have in their attorney.

#7: Be curious

Meet with your clients in person, if possible, and get to know them. Ask them about their background, family, and interests so that you will be able to talk to them about something besides their case. Clients don’t typically want to talk business all the time and will generally appreciate it when you show some interest in them as people, not just one of your cases.

#8: Be responsive

Once a client signs the retainer agreement, they should expect to hear from you regularly. Attorneys and their staff are required to keep clients in the loop and provide regular updates regarding the case in the form of copies of correspondence, phone calls, emails, or face-to-face meetings.

#9: Be empathetic

Reassure clients with statements like: “You might get anxious at times during this process – that is normal. Just focus on the task at hand, and you’ll do fine, even if you are a little nervous.” Presenting information in concrete rather than abstract terms, breaking it up into manageable segments, and using visual aids can also help ease client anxiety.

#10: Be trustworthy

The foundation of effective communication is trust, and the best way for law firm leaders and staff to lay that foundation is to build a strong rapport with people. You can do this by showing a genuine interest in your clients, empathizing with their challenges, and following through when you say you’ll return their call or answer their questions.

#11: Be patient

Instead of getting angry with difficult or unreasonable clients, try to remember that practicing law is a service business, and you need to accept your clients the way they are. The key is to remember that their fear or demands often have little or nothing to do with your firm and instead are due to their limited understanding of the legal system. It’s your job to give them a crash course.

#12: Be goal-oriented

Research has shown that when a person focuses on the process and not the result or the consequences of the result, they tend to feel less anxious, perform better, and achieve a better outcome. As you prepare a client for litigation, try to get them to focus on what they have been instructed to do and not worry about how their actions might impact the case.

First impressions matter, and it will be much easier to build an effective attorney-client relationship early in the process if you have a plan and use any issues that arise as teachable moments. Client onboarding is one of the most important and vital processes in a firm’s life, and these tips should keep everything running smoothly.

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