Operating In A World Of Immediate Response (Part II)
Operating in a World of Immediate Response
Building A Legal Practice Designed To Last, Part II
We live in a world where immediate response is no longer going above and beyond but rather the base expectation from a business.
In this world of immediate response you need to be able to answer the following questions:
- How quickly can I handle a case or matter? If this is a lengthy process am I adequately setting expectations with my client?
- How quickly can I respond to client calls?
- How can I prevent repeating information?
- How quickly can my office set up a consultation?
Immediate Response World v. Delayed Response Profession
Our court systems are not generally designed for immediate response, but rather for carefully thought out rulings that come after lengthy consideration. As a result, you may be thinking, “how could I possibly design a practice to immediately respond, when a case is likely to get bogged down in litigation for months or even years?”
Part of operating in a world of immediate response but in a profession of painfully slow response, is to begin by setting realistic expectations about how long something will take. Explain the reasons why it will take time to file a motion or for a case to be set for trial. Operating in a world of immediate response does not mean you must be able to drop everything every time you get a phone call, but rather that you exceed client expectations and set realistic timelines on a case.
Discuss Your Office’s Response Policy (i.e. Future Communication) Up Front
Once a client hires you to handle their case, part of being able to respond in a reasonable (not immediate) time is to carefully discuss expected timelines up front with your client. Discuss how long you expect the case to take for resolution and also discuss your own communication policy with clients when it comes to responding to client questions or concerns throughout the legal process.
I generally set aside a couple of hours on Friday afternoons to respond to current clients. I tell them up front that this will be the time to have a conversation about their case as we work toward a resolution. Because my clients know ahead of time that this will be the opportunity for case discussion, most clients that call in on Monday to set up a time to talk don’t have any problem waiting until Friday to discuss their case. Every practice area is different in terms of the amount of time necessary to set aside for these client inquiries, but the key is to setting expectations up front.
Use a Detailed Engagement Letter or Action Plan
Another key to being able to immediately respond to clients is to create detailed engagement letters or action plans for your clients in writing that explain the case process and give your clients a to do list. If the client has a question that can be answered by looking at your engagement letter you have helped to immediately respond to your client’s question and given them peace of mind by having that information in hand.
Let this article be a starting point for you to reflect on the ways that your can design your office to be able to immediately respond to the needs of your clients.
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