Even without the coronavirus pandemic, many professional service providers such as lawyers, CPAs, and even doctors have come to perform much of their work remotely. Now with COVID-19 restrictions, working remotely is a must for most.
How does one provide the same level of care and service without the benefit of face-to-face meetings? This article will give you three ways to leverage technology to give your clients what they want and need and keep them happy, from the office of a Pittsburgh criminal appeals lawyer.
Schedule Regular Email Updates in Your Calendar App
Regular contact with clients about an ongoing matter is a must. They are wondering what is going on, and proactively offering information at regular intervals, even if just to tell them there is no change and you expect to have news within X weeks, will assure them that you are taking care of them and their matter.
For many professional service providers, the benefit of corresponding with clients through email is that you and your clients have a written record of the correspondence between you. This is a valuable reference for you both should a question or problem arise.
Any calendar or docketing application will allow you or your staff to schedule periodic emails to clients, and that application will notify you when a client is due for an email. Every two weeks should be sufficient. You might put aside an hour or two on a Monday to send all of the emails that are due that week. Your clients will thank you for taking the time.
Use a Secure Password-Protected Client Portal
Professional service providers may be bound by state ethics rules to use a secure portal to send and receive client emails. Be sure to comply with that rule to maintain client privacy.
It is far more efficient to send out a quick email on your schedule than to have to respond to your clients’ phone calls or emails inquiring about the status of their matter. That being said…
Return Emails and Phone Calls within 24 hours
You should make it clear up front that you will respond to inquiries client timely, say 24 hours or one business day, and that you expect the same from your clients. Situations arise when information is needed right away, and a failure to obtain that information may compromise the matter.
Many professional service providers are required to enter into a formal contract or retainer agreement with their clients. One of the provisions of that agreement should clearly state the mutual communication expectations. Be sure to convey those expectations verbally also.
Use Zoom, Facetime, or Skype to Convey Important Information
If there is an important development in a client’s matter, say, if a judge handed down an adverse ruling, or the IRS changed a rule that negatively affects your client’s financial situation, or there has been a diagnosis, you should inform your client face-to-face. This goes for positive developments but most especially for negative developments.
Why? Of course, it is a joy to impart good news, and since you helped your client you can and should notify your client of any good news in a face-to-face virtual meeting. More importantly, if there is bad news, you then are breaking that news personally, with empathy, and you are immediately available for your clients’ follow-up questions.
Again, your profession may be bound by ethics rules to communicate with clients securely. While some meeting applications are password-protected and encrypted, they are prone to hacking. Be sure to investigate whether an application offers a secure way to meet virtually with clients before holding those meetings.
Keeping your clients in the loop remotely and being responsive to their inquiries is the way to assure them that you are taking care of them, which will, in turn, prompt repeat business and referrals.
About the Author
Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant living and working in the great city of Philadelphia. She frequently works with Todd Mosser, Esq., a busy Philadelphia appeals attorney.