Customer service is a universal experience – whether you’re calling your bank, cable company, or any other everyday service provider. You go through a series of automated prompts, key in a few digits, indicate your language of choice and maybe even agree to take that quick 2-minute survey at the end of the call.
If you’re lucky, you might be put through to someone right away. Though more often than not you’re put on hold.
At the end of the day, customer service can be frustrating to say the least. But amidst the frustration, we tend to take for granted one important thing – the fact that systematic customer service exists at all.
Imagine calling your cable company and hearing a “call waiting” sound because too many people are calling in at that time. Or having someone pick up at the bank and make you wait for the branch manager to answer a simple question. This is the experience many people have with law firm customer service.
So we wanted to share our thoughts on how law firms can re-imagine customer service, both through their hiring as well as the technology they use.
Law firm customer service today
While there’s certainly a spectrum in terms of law firm customer service, it’s safe to say that for the most part calling a law firm to inquire about an ongoing case is not the same as calling Verizon about your latest phone bill.
Here’s how it usually works.
Unless the firm is really small, there’s probably a secretary or administrator who answers the general phone number. Let’s assume for a minute that we work at a mid-size immigration firm with a secretary, and that a current client is calling to inquire about the status of their H-1B transfer. The secretary picks up, asks the caller a few questions such as their name, whether they’re a client, why they’re calling and who their lawyer is.
Once the secretary gets those answers, they put the client on hold, reach out to the relevant attorney, tell them who’s calling and what about, and then go back to the caller and probably tell them that the attorney will call back within the next few hours.
Is anyone tracking to make sure the lawyer calls that client back? Probably not.
If the question is small, can it be answered without bothering the client’s lawyer? Not always.
Are there processes in place around measuring customer satisfaction around micro-interactions such as a follow-up call? The answer is likely no.
Law firms do tend to ask how service was at the end of the case, but that takes into account dozens if not hundreds of interactions which are not, in and of themselves, individually tracked. However they don’t typically track every client interaction and therefore aren’t keeping their pulse on the firm’s true level of customer service.
So how do we make it better?
How can law firms get better at customer service?
First and foremost, it may be time for law firms to take a page out of the phone company customer service handbook – hire someone specifically trained in customer service. If the firm is big enough, perhaps someone who is a designated full-time customer service rep can even be necessary. But even a small immigration firm can use this – you might be a 10-lawyer shop but do high volume H-1Bs and therefore have hundreds if not thousands of clients at any given time.
Customer service professionals, or individuals who have customer service training and experience, have certain skills that lawyers, paralegals and other law firm employees don’t necessarily have – persuasive speaking, empathy, clear communication and so on. It’s not to say that law firm staff don’t have these skills per se. But customer service professionals have honed these skills specifically within the context of talking to clients.
By having someone on staff either focusing exclusively on customer service or with prior experience and training in customer service, and putting that person or team on the front lines to deal with incoming client calls, emails, chats and visits, law firms can create a better experience for their clients, especially in a high-volume environment.
But hiring someone with customer service skills alone isn’t enough. These individuals need to be able to answer their client’s questions. This is where leveraging law firm tech comes in.
How technology can help law firm customer service
When a client has a question that can easily be answered by a secretary, admin or designated customer service rep, it’s important for that law firm employee to have the right tools at their fingertips to be able to easily and accurately pull up the requested information.
The best way to ensure this happens is to train your non-legal staff to use your law firm’s case management platform, because often times law firm staff who are not directly involved in cases don’t get access to their case management platforms which is why they have to pass the call along to a lawyer or other staff member.
At INSZoom, for example, we know that many of our users are immigration lawyers, case managers, paralegals and others working directly on immigration cases. But we also help train and encourage existing INSZoom clients to train non-legal employees on the system so that they can navigate it when needed, especially when they are customer-facing. This way they can help their customers quickly and efficiently, not have to bother lawyers and case managers who are already busy with other cases and ongoing work, and generally feel more involved with the law firm’s work and perhaps even be inspired to want to eventually step into a more legal position.
One way of encouraging law firm staff to become acquainted with case management technology is to create a certificate program that trains, tests and rewards users for their proficiency. This isn’t new either – Salesforce, Microsoft and many other large tech companies have certificate programs that not only ensure proper platform training, but also make the certificate holders more confident and, in the event they choose to leave their job and go elsewhere, more marketable.
Well INSZoom is now joining those ranks.
We’re really excited to launch the first-ever INSZoom certification program. Not only are we providing INSZoom training, we will also be awarding those that go through this training with certification. This way, we can ensure that every INSZoom client has the tools and resources they need to not only use our platform in the most effective and efficient way, but more importantly to pass those efficiencies into their clients in the form of top-notch customer service.
If you have any questions about our certification program, want to learn more, or want to sign up, please visit our certification program page https://dev-inszoom-live.pantheonsite.io/inszoom-academy/, reach out to your INSZoom representative, or chat with us right on our website!