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Law Firms, Clients & Social Media

I am flying a bit of a kite here. What I write comes from my own experience in life, both in practice and in family and my own social life. It’s something I have raised in professional circles. Usually I’m met by blank faces! (Another one of Hunnings’ mad cap ideas I hear you groan!)

When I practiced as a solicitor, and indeed now when working as a consultant, possibly the biggest blockage to turning a potential job into a finished job with cash in the bank is communication – or rather the lack of it. When I ran my own department, I told my staff to ask their clients for their ‘preferred means of communication’, recognising that we could not assume that the most convenient method for us would be the one that the client would want to use and thus be the most effective. We were then talking about letters, emails or the phone (in some occasions, if we were radical, text – although my experience is that it is really only conveyancing that has adopted this as a practice area).

In my non-working life I cannot be so restricted. I had to join Instagram to be able to communicate remotely with my eldest son. I use Whats App to communicate with my wife’s family, although my wife and I tend to use Facebook Messenger most of the time. Some of my friends prefer text. I also use LinkedIn messenging for professional contacts and direct messaging through Twitter. I know what method my social contacts prefer to use and so I use that, as I want to get in touch/an answer ASAP. Of course there are other methods to direct message as well. So, this is what happens in my personal life. Why should we assume that our clients should prefer to use our selected methods (letter/phone/email or text), merely because it suits us. If the business imperative is to turn the prospect into cash ASAP and communication is one of the biggest constraints to achieving this, then shouldn’t we explore facilitating communication through our client’s optimal method ?

However, here we seem to come up against a number of problems. People say

  • well there are so many options, we don’t want to invest in facilitating one when it then becomes obsolete
  • how can we keep a record of communications to protect ourselves and ensure regulatory compliance
  • how do we ensure our firm’s security is not breached & we don’t want staff to be doing this through personal accounts
  • we don’t have the expertise or budget to make this happen

From what I have seen of the Case, Practice and Document Management Systems in the market currently, it does not seem that this issue is being addressed. Most integrate with Microsoft Outlook and text, some offer deal rooms or apps for clients to upload data – but what I am suggesting would be somewhat different : facilitating what clients feel comfortable with rather than making them do what we think would be best (best suited to us). We all know that what works best is when people meet up where we are, rather than requiring us to do things that are not so convenient to us – that push us (the consumer/customer/paying client) out of our comfort zone. The closest I have seen is Peppermint – which is building it’s Practice Management System around CRM, but even this seems to be scratching the surface only.

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