Legal technology is no longer a buzzword, but a growing reality. So it comes as no surprise that improving communication through technology offers efficiency in speed that you would not believe.
Most people are familiar with the instantaneous nature of online communication through social media and SMS. What is less familiar, however, is how this saves time and in turn, boosts the profits of a law firm.
Email is not the way forward and here’s why
Many law firms rely on email and phone calls as their main communication channels. However, the nature of these forms of communication is that any email or call that is received can be ignored or put to one side until the recipient is ready to respond. It’s simple maths. If your inbox is full of emails and one of those emails is from your law firm is important or urgent to reply to, more often than not it will get missed, or more likely still, read with the same urgency and importance as the rest of the emails. This isn’t good for law firms but even for the most important matters, you, like everyone else are fighting for your customer's attention and time against an entire world of distractions. Worse still, for clients who do not use their email regularly, there is almost no guarantee of a quick response, if one at all.
To put it simply:
- The average response time for emails is 12 hours.
- As a result, lawyers end up wasting time waiting on responses or otherwise chasing clients to respond, as their case or transaction often comes to a halt until they receive that much-needed response or document.
- Lawyers may even offload their chasing burden on other employees such as paralegals or even fee-earners, hence wasting additional time on other resources, all costing the firm money.
- As most firms still rely primarily on billable hours for their revenue, effective use of time is vital.
The problem in practice
Imagine your law firm with 20 fee earners with an average billing rate of £150 per hour in a fixed fee scenario. If each lawyer misses 4 units of time each day as they are waiting or chasing responses via email or even telephone, this can equate to a £180,000 missed revenue opportunity annually. This sum is being lost even in modestly sized firms due to the slow nature of traditional communication channels.
Digital communication, offered through a streamlined client portal software, is the speedy alternative to email and telephone. Around 2.52 billion people globally use some form of messaging application on their mobile. That is over a quarter of the world’s population. Unlike email, instant messaging offers speed of delivery and response. A recent survey has found that the average response time to an instant messenger is 2 minutes and 40 seconds, for example. That would leave your lawyers with over 11 hours to do fee-generating work or otherwise progress with the matter at hand more quickly. The former will increase the money in the client account; whilst the latter will offer clients a quicker service and increase the likelihood that they will seek your advice in the future.
One for the skeptics
If you are still not convinced, consider a fee-earner who sends 20 emails per case or transaction which provokes at least one reply. Each email sent would potentially cause a delay of almost 12 hours, and over the course of the entire case or transaction, this would amount to a delay to the transaction of 20 days.
There are two problems this creates:
- The perception of poor client service because of the perceived time it took to get responses, put work down and pick work back up again.
- The firm waits 20 days longer for each case or transaction to get paid.
Speed, therefore, is something that should not be underestimated in law firms; and in a business such as law where time equates to business, it is the first of the profit-generating elements that are undoubtedly linked with digital communication.
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