One of the most critical functions within a law office, client intake, is perhaps among the most overlooked. Because an attorney’s life is already extremely busy, it can be difficult for him or her to divert any attention toward growing the practice. However, the future may depend on the focus and moves the attorney takes now.
The impression your new clients receive when getting their first glimpse into your firm’s workings is crucial. The onboarding process should leave your clients with a very positive reaction while you are, at the same time, taking care of very important details and getting them entered into the firm’s database.
There are ways to improve your law firm’s existing procedures, and the following seven tips will help paint a picture for successfully accomplishing this:
Develop an Intake System
The first step is to develop an intake system that will help your firm identify and define the necessary steps to bring aboard new clients. Because each firm has differing requirements, it should not be assumed that the procedure is automatically understood. Review the intake tasks that should be included.
During the procedure of reviewing, evaluate whether there may be a better way to complete any of the tasks. If there is a better way, streamline the process without giving up any customer service. Make the intake process as easy as possible for your employees while providing complete satisfaction for your clients. Improving law firm procedures also improves customer service.
Create a Checklist
Design and create a new-client checklist. The list should give enough information to enable any person accessing the file to readily and easily understand what information has already been obtained and what steps remain to be completed. This list becomes the guideline for a new client’s paperwork and should include each necessary step for properly processing your new clients.
Once the checklist is completed and implemented, each future client will benefit from the streamlined procedure. The law firm staff will now be able to review a client’s checklist to quickly determine what comes next. The process of utilizing a simple checklist can instantly improve the efficiency level in a law firm and minimize those infamous hunt-and-search missions.
Automate the Firm’s Client Agreements
Without question, client agreements are one of the most crucial parts of a client’s information file. A law firm’s contracts should all stem from an automated document that gives some basic terms. This standard, basic agreement can be the starting document used for each new customer. Ultimately, any necessary changes or alterations can be made to fully customize the final agreement to fit each particular client’s needs.
Automating client agreements will make them easier to administer. Each person in the law firm will become accustomed to using the same standard form, even though minor changes may be made. By using a standardized form for each case, an added benefit is that any alterations tend to catch the eye of law firm employees, thus drawing attention to the detail.
Additionally, having a standardized agreement means that time is saved by not needing to create a new one each time a new client appears. Thus, correct terms and important provisions are always included, and accidental mistakes in the documents are kept to a minimum.
Use Standard Form Templates
Following in line with the previous topic regarding standardized client agreements, a proficient law firm will also avoid the need to create other forms over and over again for every new client it receives. The waste of valuable time and the potential for errors is sidestepped by using software specifically designed for legal firms. Each employee can design and maintain his or her own templates for the forms used. In addition, these templates may be electronically shared between all firm members who need them.
The use of templates is not a new technology. However, the population of various fields within documents has changed over time. It is easier now to begin a document with a template, then merge it into other programs that will populate desired areas in the form. Your law firm can develop specific standard forms that are unique to your client’s needs. An administrator within your firm can develop and organize new templates to be accessed during a new client’s intake process.
Keeping Track of New Clients
It is crucial for a law firm to keep track of its new clients. Ongoing communication needs to take place, and future meetings will need to be scheduled. When detailed information is kept in one place, a new client can easily and readily be properly serviced by your firm.
By improving your procedures, you can more efficiently track the needs of each client. Things like setting reminders to call a client back will help ensure that you do not forget such an important part of handling your client’s needs.
Using Notes to Improve Service
If separate employees handle different portions of new-client care, this can lead to confusion. For this reason, everyone who participates in any portion of the intake procedures should make notes. Such notes should immediately go into the client’s file. Technology allows electronic notes to be accessible to anyone in your firm. Confusion can be eliminated if everyone can view all notes about this client.
Customer satisfaction can remain high and the firm’s procedures can move smoothly by the use of such a simple measure as making notes. When employees are trained to read client notes and accurately update them, each client will benefit from the highest quality of individualized service possible.
After putting in place a new-client intake process, it is vital to properly train all employees in its use. If you have law firm employees who do not understand the proper procedures, the system is useless, and there will be no improvement in client satisfaction. A number of methods are available for informing the staff of your intake process.
When initiating or changing the intake process, you must let everyone know. A company memo can be distributed that outlines the process. Or, if new software is being introduced, training should be provided, and it can be announced in a memo.
If the necessary training is very minimal, it can be outlined in a handout or email. However, if a deeper level of training is needed, your employees will require more concentrated instruction after the intake process is in place. Later, if any refresher training is necessary, it can be provided at that time.
Working With Broughton Partners For Qualified Clients
Law firms also have the option to work with a legal marketing firm such as Broughton Partners. Our in-house call center is staffed with highly trained multilingual individuals who are ready to take calls any time, any day. Potential plaintiffs are put through our unique intake identification and screening process to find the right potential claimants so that all you need to worry about is helping your new clients. We work to ensure that the claims you are receiving from us are fully qualified.
Contact Broughton Partners to learn how your law firm can receive signed claimants.