Slowly but surely, law firms are modernizing their operations. Modern practice management software, like Clio, has empowered law firms of all sizes to better organize cases, track billing, and manage client communications. New methods of advertising, like Facebook Lead Ads and Google AdWords, have helped law firms attract new clients. And new business apps, like Heymarket, have streamlined law firm communications and case management.
But law firms that haven’t already taken the leap and adopted business text messaging can be wary of taking on a new channel. Won’t texting confuse long-time clients? How can texting be used with prospective clients? Aren’t there state bar compliance requirements?
While your firm may have a lot of initial questions, business text messaging is being used by all types of law firms—and securely implementing it is actually simpler than it sounds. Read on to learn how.
Client-Facing Text Messaging
Law firms interested in adopting business text messaging—or those that have recently adopted it—are often concerned with communicating with existing clients first and foremost. With clients, firms can use business SMS to:
Clients often have multiple meetings and appointments to attend, and business text messaging expedites confirmation and increases attendance in multiple ways. While phone calls and emails often go unanswered, texting has a 98% open rate. And because the average person responds to a text within 90 seconds, it’s likely that scheduling will be completed fast. With business text messaging, firms can even send personalized scheduling requests en masse, responding to each reply individually.
Answer Client Questions
Clients or potential clients often ask short questions in between or before meetings and court dates. While these can be answered with phone calls, in many cases, it is far faster for both firms and clients to communicate via business SMS.
Provide Case Updates
Firms don’t need to provide simple case updates, like document receipt or hearing progress, in person or over the phone. Instead, teams can use business SMS, saving valuable time and increasing the chances that clients will review the information.
Send Appointment and Document Reminders
Before a meeting or trial, clients often have to complete paperwork or something similar. With business text messaging, lawyers or administrators can quickly send follow-up texts to ensure all paperwork is finished or send an appointment reminder that reiterates the date and location of their next meeting. These small notifications can also be sent en masse, personalized by merge tokens that draw on custom fields.
Automate Client Intake Forms
New clients all take the same steps during the intake process. With the help of business text messaging, law firms can create customizable SMS drip campaigns to automate the process. When prospective clients text in with questions, firms can add them to a “New Client Intake” campaign. The campaign can intermittently send texts that remind clients about paperwork or simply check in with a client’s interest in pursuing their case.
Prevent Bill Leakage
Top business text messaging platforms can connect with case management systems, like Clio. When lawyers and administrators text through business SMS platforms with key integrations, their messages are automatically logged within the case management system, including time stamps. This detailed tracking enables firms to bill clients accordingly.
Send Timely Notifications
On average, professionals take 1.87 hours to respond to emails, but only 90 seconds to respond to texts. Sending quick questions or notes through business text messaging is a much faster alternative to sending emails, calling coworkers on the phone, or talking face-to-face. Business SMS works particularly well for emergency notifications, holiday reminders, scheduling information, or last-minute notes before trial.
The right business text messaging platform will help a law firm stay compliant with local and federal regulations, too. A compliant business text messaging platform for law firms will:
A top business SMS platform will clearly display client names while team members text them, preventing your firm from accidentally sending the wrong text message to the wrong client. The platform’s design will not cause any confusion about who each team member is communicating with.
Automatically Log Text Messages
Cutting-edge business text messaging platforms will offer integrations with key practice management software, like Clio. An integration like this will automatically log client-facing text messages to the appropriate contact and matter in the practice management software for easy message review.
In a firm, it’s critical that only approved employees can read client messages. Business text messaging software offers extensive roles and permissions capabilities, so that managers can manage who sees what messages. When team members leave a firm, access to client data can be blocked and data remotely wiped from the app on their devices.
Offer a Shared Inbox
Using personal phone numbers simply isn’t compliant, according to most state bar associations. Business text messaging platforms allow a firm to text-enable their existing line or create a new texting-only number, so that firm staff can use a business number on each of their phones or computers instead of using personal phone numbers.
While there are multiple regulations to consider and review with your team, the most important thing to remember is that clients must opt in before receiving communications from your team. They must also be able to opt out at will. Business text messaging platforms should recognize standard reply messages like STOP, STOPALL, UNSUBSCRIBE, CANCEL, END, or QUIT, and automatically opt out clients who send in those keywords.
Business Text Messaging Setup
If your law firm has a landline already, it’ll be easy to enable texting. Once you have adopted your business text messaging platform, you can follow a quick process to text-enable your landline, toll-free, or VoIP number. Throughout the brief process, your clients can still call your landline, but once the process is over, they’ll have the choice of either texting or calling. Incoming text messages will arrive straight into your business text messaging platform’s inbox. If you need a new number entirely, your business text messaging platform will be able to provide that, too.
Growing Texting Lists
To encourage your clients and potential clients to text, publicize your texting capabilities on all of your websites, social media pages, and client communications. Be sure to mention the speed with which your team can answer queries, and the hours of texting operation. If you find that business text messaging helps you speed up operations significantly, you might consider some call deflection strategies to encourage more messaging.
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