Process Is Critical To Your Firm’s Success
Process. It’s one of the most important things in any business to keep it humming like a well-oiled machine. In your law firm, it’s even more important. Clients are judging you by the experience you provide, from the minute they find you online, all the way through the end of the engagement. For this reason, it’s important to implement processes to make sure every client gets that great experience every time.
Based on what we’ve seen as we work with firms, and in talking to a lot of attorneys, here are five processes that always rank high on the list…
1. Drafting Repetitive Emails
For most of us, e-mail is the lifeblood of our firm, and how lots of client communication is handled. Odds are that you draft certain e-mails at the same place in each client engagement. For example…
- Welcome e-mail at the beginning of each engagement, explaining terms, how to best interact with your firm, billing arrangements and more.
- Reminders of forms needed/information to collect at initial consultations and other steps in the process.
- Emails after each engagement to remind clients that you’d appreciate them rating you on social media or Google.
I’m sure there are many more, but this list should at least get you started. Create standard templates for each of these repetitive emails and save yourself time and money. In Gmail, they’re called “canned responses” and accessible via Gmail Labs, but you can save them any way you like – even in a Word document or something similar.
2. How To Handle Your Phones
Do you have someone in your office picking up your phones live, whether it be a receptionist, a paralegal or attorney? How do you handle it when they’re on the other line, grabbing lunch or otherwise unavailable? Or, do you have someone like Ruby Receptionists (they’re awesome, by the way) handling all your inbound calls? How do you handle the phones after hours? On holidays?
Regardless of how you handle phones, make sure you have it documented in a process. This will make life easier for you, help with onboarding new employees, and help set expectations for your entire staff.
3. Billing And Accounts Receivable
There are three parts to almost any business – selling the service or product, providing the service or product, and billing/collecting payment for it. Each piece has to be solid. One area many firms neglect is accounts receivable, especially collections processes for when they have clients that fall into arrears on payment.
Have set processes for billing – how do you bill, what are the steps, how often, etc. After you send out bills, keep track of payments and have a standard process to follow on past due billing. For example, at 30 days, maybe you send out a pre-scripted email reminder. At 45 days, you may have your bookkeeper call to follow up.
4. Closing Files
After your client’s matter has been closed, have a standard set of items you do for each one. Perhaps that would include final invoicing, setting them to a certain status in your case management system (Clio, Time Matters, etc), scanning in all documents to your document management system, asking for client feedback/reviews and more. However your firm does it, have it documented to make sure that the client’s last experience with you on each case is a positive one. This will help in keeping them happy, and in generating glowing referrals for your firm.
Of course, we could write for days on this one! For law firm marketing, whether offline or online, there are sets of recurring tasks that need to be done on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. A couple of common processes for marketing are…
- How often, and how, to post blog entries.
- How often to post to social media.
- How to respond to customer inquiries and guide them through your engagement process.
- How to reach out to different places for guest blogging.
- Checking rankings, visitor engagement and more, and making site adjustments for SEO purposes.
- Staying educated on industry happenings and adjusting your site and code to match best practices.
- Managing and adjusting law firm PPC budgets and tactics.
(By the way, we have processes developed for everything you need on the marketing end. Contact us if we can help get this piece off your plate!)
As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Developing processes for your firm is an ongoing thing, and processes should be living documents. As you and your team follow these processes, you’ll see ways to improve them and implement those changes into them over time, resulting in an even better experience for your clients, improving your life and your bottom line!