The clients you serve in your law practice can either advocate for you and bring you more business or can do the opposite.
You can turn your clients into marketing soldiers by offering them superb customer service experience.
Offering legal services is only one facet of your legal practice.
Dealing with your client is another crucial element that can be overlooked by law firms and lawyers in general.
Although we do not want to oversimplify the analysis, your customer experience can have a direct impact on your ability to compete in the legal marketplace and elevate your game to a whole new level.
In this article, we will go over five reasons why an awesome client intake system can deliver value to your clients by positively enhancing your client’s experience when dealing with your firm.
We will look at:
- What is a client intake system?
- Why client intake systems are important
- What is a good client intake process
- Benefits of a client intake system
- Client intake systems fit within your customer service strategy
Let’s dive right in!
1- What is a client intake system?
The client intake process is a method for the exchange of information and data between a client and a lawyer.
In your law practice, your intake may be unstructured or follow a standardized and automated process.
For example, some law firms can have their clients contact them by email, by filling out forms at the office, by calling in and speaking to a lawyer or support staff or exchange information with the firm in other ways, even social media platforms.
This operational setup represents the mainstream way in dealing with clients and collecting information.
Another law firm may leverage a client intake software solution to interact with its clients through a web page or a private client online portal. This is today’s modern client intake system. A platform designed and intended for the client and the lawyer to communicate with one another in a structured, organized and centralized manner.
The client intake system is therefore the interface between you and your client.
The more robust your intake system, you will collect your client information more efficiently, process it faster, trigger your internal workflows immediately and get the job done fast. End of story.
2- Why client intake systems are important for law firms
Having a strategy to deal with your clients in the execution of your mandate is a must.
Giving your clients the best possible experience can lead to improving your law firm’s reputation and overall success in the market.
Your client interactions may seem benign, however, they convey a strong message about your law firm and the importance that you allocate to your customer service.
By providing a seamless client intake experience, you set the stage for increasing your client’s satisfaction through positive exchanges with your firm and thus solidifying your relationship with that customer.
Using automation tools such as a legal client intake software can significantly improve your law firm’s efficiency, reduce your overhead costs while driving better client experience and improving your firm’s ability to retain that client and acquire others.
3- What is a good client intake process
A good client intake software should that delivers value to your business should:
- Be easy to use by the client and lawyer
- Be operationally efficient
- Allow for a repeatable process
- Allow you to stay organized
- Have a personal touch
Easy to use by the client and lawyer
Your software should be easy to use for you and most importantly your client.
Your client should be able to easily navigate the platform, fill out the required fields, provide you with the information needed, upload or download files and ultimately receive a response from you.
On the back-end, you want to be able to quickly track what was shared by your client, kick-start an operational workflow to address your client’s needs or inquiry, process your client information received and share your feedback back to your client.
It is no secret that many law firms suffer from operational challenges, complex internal processes and administrative-heavy operations.
According to Clio’s Legal trends Report, a lawyer will spend on average 2.3 hours in a day on billable activity and the rest of the day on non-billable and administrative tasks! That means 5.7 hours in a day (8-hour work day) will be spent on administrative tasks!
Managing your workflow and law firm operations is therefore essential to your overall success.
With a client intake software, you can standardize your workflows, reduce time spent on non-billable activities and improve your turnaround times.
Allow for a repeatable process
You should have a repeatable client intake process and workflow.
If your operation is not organized or follows a set of pre-established rules, then you must first get organized before investing even in a client intake system.
You should dissect your processes, identify your challenges and bottlenecks and devise and implement a methodology allowing you to reduce or even eliminate the challenges.
Leveraging a software product will augment your operational best practices and methodologies you already have in place and will not magically fix all your problems.
You can get yourself the latest and the best client intake software but if your processes remain hodgepodge, then your software may help but you may not be able to use it to its fullest potential.
Before getting a software, get a task force together to re-engineer your processes so that you can drastically improve your gains by implementing a client intake system.
Allow you to stay organized
Dealing with many clients where each sends you volumes of emails, forwards loads of attachments and documents, sends you so much material that you lose sleep, you have no choice but to have an organized law firm to survive.
Without an impeccable organization, you will eventually be swamped and no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel.
By leveraging a client intake software, you can stay organized in real-time as the client information is transmitted to you.
When your client uploads a document through your intake portal, you can have the document loaded directly into your practice management software and saved directly into your central repository.
Gone with the manual filing and storing of your client documents!
You can save a significant amount of time by no longer having to perform the same mundane tasks manually over and over again.
You are enabled to track the advancement of your client matter, for example: did your client sign the engagement letter, is the retainer paid, has the form been completed or is the information transmitted to the client?
An advantage in using a software solution to deal with your client is that you can stay on top of your dealings, interactions and information exchanged by keeping it automated, organized and centralized.
Have a personal touch
Striving to leverage technology and legal automation tools can bring significant value to your law firm.
To make your customer experience even greater, you should maintain a certain level of human interaction with your client.
We operate in a profession where human interactions remain a significant driver of business to lawyers and law firms.
You should look to strike the balance between the use of legal software and technology with keeping a good and valuable personal relationship with your clients.
Taking some time to speak with your client, meet face-to-face or provide a personal touch will show your client that you are there and care. Your client will continue to trust in your services and stay happy.
4- Benefits of a client intake system
There are many benefits in using legal client intake software.
Just the idea of having to implement a software solution will inevitably bring you to assess the efficiency of your legal operations, your challenges and pain points when dealing with your clients.
On the points identified, you devise a process aimed at alleviating your operational bottlenecks and allowing for a more efficient and timely start-to-finish process when dealing with your client.
The software purchasing process can steer you to identify your own weaknesses and tackle them head-on.
Implementing a great intake system will then boost and enhance your operational efficiency to whole new levels and help you save more time and handle fewer administrative tasks.
You will also benefit by having a standardized process where you can quickly trigger the right operational workflows and engage the right stakeholders shortly after your client has exchanged information with you.
Your efforts will pay off by lowering your operational costs and drastically improve your customer experience and customer service.
Your client is the most important asset to your business and you must do what you can to keep them satisfied.
5- Client intake systems fit within your customer service strategy
Aside from dealing with your operational challenges, a client intake system will have a direct impact on your clients’ experience when dealing with your firm.
Since you will have your client use your intake form, web page or portal, your client’s experience will help shape your own law firm’s image, brand and reputation.
As lawyers, we must be conscious of our customer experience, adapt and change our ways to significantly improve and enhance our client’s lives.
The client intake platform of your choice should fit within your customer service strategy.
You may already have an optimized system or at least a system you are comfortable in dealing with your clients, and that’s great.
If not, you should take some time to analyze your law firm operation and see in what way you can make your customer service fabulous.
In the end, a client intake system is not “just” another software or application. It is a tool that you must leverage to give your customers an absolutely fantastic experience unlike what they have seen at other firms.
We hope that this article was useful in presenting to you the value of a client intake system.
Are you currently using a client intake system? How is that working for you? We will be happy to get your comments and hear from you.
Frequently asked questions about client intake forms
What is a client intake form?
A client intake form is used to gather information about a client allowing an attorney or a professional to have basic information about a prospect or a new client when reaching out to them for the first time. For instance, to make make the best use of everyone’s time for an initial consultation, using a client intake form, relevant information about a client and their legal issues or questions can be gathered to help the attorney prepare ahead of time.
What is the main purpose of the client intake form?
The main purpose of the client intake form is to gather relevant information from the client allowing an organization to manage or handle the client’s request properly. A client intake form can be used to get information about a new client or a prospect, it can be used by an active client to obtain relevant information to handle a question or process a request. The client intake form not only guides the client to provide needed information but also allows for the efficient processing of the request and minimizing lots of back and forth between a company and the client.