As a consultant at a legal technology company, I obviously am a believer in the ability of technology to help make the practice of law more efficient—attorneys have greater access to their information and AI tools can help automate the mundane. The focus, however, is typically on internal tools dedicated to the actual practice of law. One aspect that is often overlooked, but is now starting to come to the forefront, is how technology can enhance the client experience.
I recently hosted a webinar with Kate Jasaitis and David Sanders, both of whom are on the front lines of client experience at Foley & Lardner. Kate leads an entire team devoted to enhancing the client experience, while David is a partner where the client experience is paramount to the relationships he builds with his clients. During our time, we discussed why client experience is important, how to evaluate technology to enhance client experience and how technology has actually improved the client experience.
Why is client experience important?
If you’re reading this blog, you know how competitive the legal field can be. Competition is ingrained in us from the very first day of law school. This competition also exists at the firm level. Law firms need to be able to distinguish themselves from other firms. It’s that edge, that something extra that the firm provides, that makes the client think of your firm first when a problem arises. Firms need to create stickiness (technological term—trust me) with their clients. It’s the experience a client has with a firm that has them coming back.
Annette Franz defined client experience as, “The sum of all the interactions that a [client] has with an organization over the life of the 'relationship' with that [organization]…and, especially the feelings, emotions, and perceptions the [client] has about those interactions." Increasing connection points with the client allows for and fosters greater communication between attorney and client. So, the question becomes: How can you create more connection points with the same amount of resources? The answer is simple—technology.
Evalutaing technology to enhance client experience
Technology can certainly help create more connection points between law firm and client, but technology can’t be seen as the silver bullet. It’s not the end-all and be-all answer to all of your law firm’s questions. Evaluating and implementing technology is a measured approach. It’s important to understand the goals of both the clients and the firm. This begins with a simple conversation with your clients. It’s important to understand what the clients’ feelings are on what makes the relationship easier, what their problems and issues are, or how the firm can improve on a matter-by-matter basis.
Clients know they have a need or a problem, but it’s up to the firm to come up with the solution. When evaluating technology, law firms need to understand the needs of the client and how to best serve that need. The law firm will do its due diligence by looking at options, narrowing it down to three or four options and determining if it meets more than one need of the firm. Foley & Lardner spoke to their clients about what their needs are, but they also sought out what was important for their clients when it came to a technological solution. They were able to narrow it down to five key questions they ask themselves when evaluating technology.
Perhaps the most important question from the above list is ease of use. What Foley was noticing is if the platform is cumbersome, or required lots of clicks, clients will give up. You cannot count on the technological acumen of your clients. Further, involving your attorneys and clients into the process helps drive the “sales” process of getting buy-in from other attorneys and clients of the firm; however, it’s the buy-in that drives adoption of the technology that leads to an enhanced client experience.
Benefits of enhanced client experience
Both David and Kate have seen firsthand how the HighQ platform has enhanced the client experience of Foley’s clients. After implementing a new client-facing technology, Foley as seen some of the following benefits:
- Internal teams want to learn about the HighQ platform so they can begin to take it to their clients for collaboration purposes.
- Current client relationships are becoming stickier. When a client has a problem, they’re thinking of Foley first because of the custom and unique experience each client has. They’re also noticing that their clients can take on more of the labor for legal support, so Foley is adding value to their clients.
- Clients are starting to see the links between matters and how Foley is addressing legal issues. As David said, this creates stickiness at the fundamental level.
- Foley attracts new clients. They are actively using the HighQ platform to pitch to clients by demoing the platform with examples specifically tailored to the prospective client.
Foley sees the benefits of implementing client-facing technology on a daily basis when attracting new clients, or current clients starting to come to Foley for matters they might not have before. It also shows that Foley is proactive in their representation, and not reactive–a trait all lawyers should possess.