Ensuring a Smooth and Efficient Onboarding Process for Your Clients
As a law firm, your client onboarding process is crucial to building strong relationships with your clients and setting the stage for successful legal representation.
A smooth and efficient onboarding process can help clients feel informed, supported, and confident in your ability to handle their legal needs.
On the other hand, a poorly managed onboarding process can lead to frustration and mistrust, and may even cause clients to look elsewhere for legal representation.
Disclaimer: I have written this specifically for law firms as it’s been a common topic lately, but I promise these tips are 100% relevant to ANY service-based business!
Starting off client relationships with a bang.
Client onboarding is the process of introducing and transitioning new clients into a business or organization. In the context of a law firm, the client onboarding process involves gathering all the necessary information and documents from clients, establishing communication channels and expectations, and building a relationship with the client.
I usually list the biggest goals of onboarding as:
- Welcoming your client, and getting them excited to work with you.
- Setting expectations and helping them understand the process.
- Gathering any critical info needed from your client to work with them.
Client Onboarding Processes: What’s Yours?
Before considering how you can improve yours, I first suggest sitting down and mapping out what the existing process looks like. Identify:
- First Contact: How do they get in touch? Do they have to call in? Email? Is there a contact form or booking page on your site?
- Consultation and pricing: How easy is it for a potential client to talk to somebody and have their questions answered? Do you have clear pricing or FAQs you can provide them with? A consistent process you can walk them through?
- Engagement: Assuming the first part goes well, what do the steps look like for them to retain and start working with you? How and when do they sign and pay? Is there a simple intake and verification form, or is the whole thing disorganized and messy?
- Initial steps: After all this, what happens next? How do they find out with who and how they’re working with and what they should expect?
Chances are after going through this exercise you may already be identifying some areas that can use a little oil to run smoother, but here are some more tips too:
1. Make it convenient for clients to schedule appointments and provide necessary documents.
One of the biggest challenges of onboarding new clients is coordinating schedules and gathering all the necessary documents. To make the process as smooth as possible, consider offering online scheduling tools and the ability for clients to upload documents through a secure portal such as Law Connect, Net Documents, or even just a shared dropbox.
This will allow clients to schedule appointments and provide documents on their own time, rather than having to coordinate with your office during business hours.
2. Communicate clearly and consistently.
Clear and consistent communication is key to ensuring that your clients feel informed and supported throughout the onboarding process. Make sure to provide clients with a clear timeline of what to expect and how long the onboarding process will take.
It’s also important to set expectations for communication channels – will you be communicating via email, phone, or in-person meetings? – and stick to them. This will help clients feel confident that they know what to expect and how to get in touch with you if they have any questions or concerns.
3. Streamline your intake process.
Gathering all the necessary information from clients can be time-consuming and frustrating. To make the process as efficient as possible, consider using an automated intake form that allows clients to input their information electronically.
This can save time and reduce the risk of errors. It’s also a good idea to provide clients with a checklist of the documents and information they will need to provide, so they know exactly what to expect and can gather everything in advance.
Depending on your firm and current systems, this may be:
- A legal-specific platform such as LEAP, Clio Grow, Lawmatics, etc.
- A feature of your existing CRM (if you don’t have one, you should!)
- A feature of your project management system (Asana, Clickup and Zoho all have form options)
- A separate form software like Jotforms, or even Google Forms, which is free.
4. Provide a welcoming and supportive onboarding experience.
Onboarding is not just about gathering information and documents – it’s also about building a relationship with your new clients.
Make sure to provide a welcoming and supportive onboarding experience that helps clients feel comfortable and confident in your firm’s ability to handle their legal needs. This might involve providing resources and guidance on what to expect throughout the legal process, or simply offering a friendly and helpful attitude.
5. Use technology to your advantage.
In today’s digital age, there are many tools and technologies available to help streamline and automate your law firm’s onboarding process.
For example, you might consider using document management software to store and organize client documents, or using a project management tool to track progress and deadlines. Even just meeting over Zoom instead of relying on a phone call can let your client see your face and build rapport.
Additionally, you might consider implementing electronic signature technology, which allows clients to sign documents electronically and reduces the need for physical copies and in-person meetings.
6. Offer personalized onboarding experiences.
While it’s important to have a consistent process for onboarding new clients, it’s also important to recognize that each client is unique and may have different needs and preferences.
Consider offering personalized onboarding experiences that take into account each client’s specific needs and preferences. This might involve offering flexible appointment times, providing additional resources or support, or simply taking the time to get to know the client and understand their goals and concerns.
7. Don’t forget about follow-up.
Onboarding doesn’t end once all the necessary documents and information have been gathered. It’s important to follow up with clients to ensure that they feel supported and informed throughout the legal process.
Consider setting up regular check-ins or touchpoints with clients to address any questions or concerns they may have. This can help build trust and confidence in your firm and ensure that the client feels supported and informed every step of the way.
8. Use client feedback to continuously improve.
Finally, it’s important to continuously seek out and incorporate client feedback into your onboarding process. This might involve soliciting feedback from clients, analyzing data on how long the onboarding process takes and where bottlenecks occur, or simply being open to new ideas and ways of doing things.
By continuously improving your onboarding process, you’ll be able to provide a better experience for your clients and build stronger relationships with them.
Make your clients say “Wow, I actually ENJOYED working with my lawyer!”
For a lot of people, hiring a lawyer can be something stressful or to be dreaded, especially if they are going through a hard time, or have had negative past experiences with other law firms.
If you can immediately make their lives easier right off the bat and offer them a positive experience they weren’t expecting, not only will they be more positive and responsive as a client working with you, but you can best they will sing your praises to anyone that listens and yell your name from the rooftops, ensuring future referral business and a positive reputation too.
Feeling stuck about your current client onboarding process and where to start improving it? Reach out for a free call to explore your options.