Many law firms think of availability as having somebody to take calls in the law office Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Once 5 pm hits in many law firms, business stops until the next day.
The reality is that there are 24-hours in a day. If your law firm is only taking calls 8-hours a day, what if clients and potential clients have needs the other 16-hours of the day? What if they need to reach somebody on the weekend?
Law firms that really strive toward making their law firm a 24/7 practice are a step ahead of the competition. Clients and potential clients often have imminent needs that require attention right away. Many will not wait until your office opens back up. The ability to be able to get in touch with somebody at any time can be enormously comforting to most clients and potential clients. This can result in happier clients. It can also result in your law firm is a step ahead of other firms in terms of bringing in new clients.
There are many different ways in which a law firm can move toward becoming a 24/7 law firm. Below are some ways great ways to start:
- Does your law firm give clients 24/7 access to their files online? With the rise of law firm practice management software, many software companies offer these services to clients. Giving the client the ability to login and view their file at any time can really put clients at ease. It can also result in the client having less need to call to ask some of the mundane questions they can answer themselves by viewing their file online in PDF format. All you need to implement this feature in your law firm is a copy machine that scans and practice management software that can facilitate this feature.
- Does your law firm have a live chat feature on your webpage? Many clients and potential clients do not want to pick up the phone to call. They might be at work or someplace with others around them. They might not want others to hear what they are saying. The truth is that there are many companies online that can offer a 24/7 live chat feature on your webpage. Having live chat on your webpage is a huge step toward becoming a 24/7 law firm. While it is true that many of these live chat companies cannot answer specific questions, they can take the contact information, the message and pass it along. That alone can be comforting to clients and potential clients.
- Does your law firm have an after-hours call service? While having the phones staffed Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm is nice, obtaining an after hour call service to staff your phones the other 16-hours of the day and on weekends is a huge step toward becoming a 24/7 law firm. There are many companies out there that offer these services by taking messages for you and passing along messages to the appropriate person or persons. As an analogy, many doctors have an after-hours emergency line? Why shouldn’t a law firm offer the same service?
- Do you designate lawyers to be on call after hours? The truth is that many potential clients are going to connect via live chat or through your after-hours phone service (when the office is closed). These messages are going to be passed along. If you create an after-hours rotation and put lawyers on call to respond to these messages, this can be a huge step toward becoming a 24/7 law firm.
- Do you give your clients your personal cell phone numbers? I know many lawyers gasp at this concept. They do not want to be reached after hours on their cell phone. They do not want to be interrupted while at home. Certainly, lawyers need to have lives, too. Clients should not abuse a lawyer’s personal cell phone number on nights or weekends for non-urgent matters. But in the case of an emergency, it is enormously comforting for clients to know that they can reach their attorney if they are in a bad situation that cannot wait.
Becoming a 24/7 law firm is really not difficult in this day and age. A law firm just has to first accept that it is important to be accessible at all times. They have to understand that law firms that move in this direction are going to be in a substantially better position than other firms in terms of client satisfaction and obtaining new business.
After a law firm accepts the importance of becoming 24/7, the steps above are pretty easy to implement.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.