Connecting With Your Clients in the Virtual World
The last few years have seen a huge shift towards the virtual world, both for businesses and consumers. For the legal profession, solicitors had to embrace technology in order to maintain connections with their clients, using video conferencing tools. Now, post pandemic, the technology is in place and conducting video calls with clients remains a convenient and time saving form of communication. According to a survey conducted by the Central Statistics Office in 2021, 80% of internet users in Ireland regularly use Internet telephone/video calls.
However, the relationship between solicitor and client should be nurtured, and it’s important that your client can trust that you are going to get the work done, even if you’re not meeting in person. As Billy Baldwin says “ The relationship between you and a client must be ‘we’ ”, – you need to create that feeling of being on a team working towards one common goal over the video call. So in this article, we are going to share some great tips to help you connect with your clients in the virtual world.
Prepare for your meeting
While conducting meetings with clients virtually essentially saves time for both parties, it’s still important that your clients feel that their time is valued. Being adequately prepared for the meeting demonstrates that the quality of the interaction is maintained.
A good starting point is to send your client a proposed agenda in advance of the meeting and give them an opportunity to add any of their own points that they may wish to discuss with you. Once the agenda has been finalised, you will also be able to structure the meeting to fit in the necessary talking points, as well as ensuring that you have allowed adequate time to cover all of the topics.
Another step in the preparation is to have any presentations or documents that you need to share with your client ready for viewing. Screensharing is a really useful tool for this however, it’s always good practice to signal to your client that you will be screensharing during the meeting and where possible, send the documents you will be sharing ahead of time to your client.
Keep it professional
While it may be tempting to have a more relaxed approach when it comes to virtual meetings (and yes, we all heard tales of meetings being conducted in pyjamas during lockdown), it’s important to remember that this is working time that the client will be charged for, so maintaining an air of professionalism remains essential. Be sure to have calls to your phone line diverted and let your colleagues know that you are not to be disturbed during the meeting allowing you to give your undivided attention to your client.
If you are conducting your meeting from home rather than in the office, consider carefully the space you will be hosting your meeting from. You probably don’t want your clients seeing a pile of laundry in the background or perhaps your own family photos on the wall behind you. Not only is this unprofessional, but it can also be really distracting for your client. So choose a space that has a simple background, with only one or two solid colours, or better still, select a background or filter on your video conferencing settings. Zoom, for example has a blurred background feature that’s really handy for blurring out what is behind you.
If you are screensharing to show a document to your client, make sure your computer desktop is tidy and not displaying any confidential information that your client may see.
And avoid the glare of the sunlight behind you as this will make it hard for your client to see you and your screen if you are sharing documents or presentations.
Have the right technology in place
As with most things in life, having the necessary tools in place is essential, and when it comes to virtual meetings, you need to make sure you have the right technology on site so that you can conduct virtual meetings without interference.
Time is valuable to both you and your client, so you don’t want to be wasting time troubleshooting technological issues while the meeting is already in progress. Before you schedule that meeting, test the technology and make sure the network signal is strong enough for the video call.
In our previous point, we highlighted the importance of choosing the right space for your meeting. Another factor to consider is whether the space you have chosen is in close proximity to the Wi-Fi router, giving you the strongest internet connection.
Whatever technology you’re using, make sure you’re checking out the specifications and requirements for that software. It’s also worthwhile doing some training in getting the most out of the software. For example, Zoom have a fantastic learning centre where they cover all aspects of hosting video calls and meetings.
Be cyber security conscious
In a world where both businesses and consumers are well aware of the ever growing risks of cyber-attacks, you need to reassure your clients that your law firm take cyber security very seriously. When dealing with your clients’ legal needs, more often than not, there can be very sensitive data and information being handled. So, cyber security needs to be a priority within your law firm.
Make sure you and your team are following and reviewing security protocols, and that the network connection and video conferencing technology you are using for communicating with your client are secure and reliable. We found some great information on data protection tips when using video conferencing calls here.
Increase your communications
Maintaining a relationship of trust and respect with your client in a virtual world can be a bit more challenging. So if you’re saving time for both yourself and client by conducting meetings through video calls, why not spend some of that timed saved on providing more regular updates to your clients.
Whatever the legal situation your client is facing, whether it be the purchase of a property, a personal injury claim or a perhaps a probate case, it’s going to be a stressful and anxious time. Popping your client an email with a quick update on their case, or simply a brief phone call to check in, can go a long way in reassuring your client at quite an unsettling time for them.
Allow for ‘awkward’ pauses
When meeting in person, we may feel like we have to fill in for awkward pauses in the conversation. However, in a virtual meeting, having a moment of peace is actually beneficial as it allows your client an opportunity to ask questions or offer their own thoughts on the topic. Regardless of how strong your network connection is, there is always a slight time delay in the dialogue. You may not be aware that your client wishes to ask a question so you’ve already moved onto the next topic.
Allow for natural pauses in the conversation and allow your client to share their thoughts or questions with you throughout the call.
Ready to embrace video calling in your law firm?
So it’s clear that despite the return to normality post pandemic, video calls will continue to be an efficient way of communicating with colleagues and clients alike. According to a survey by HR Magazine, 54% of employees said video calling has become their preferred method of communication, and it’s certainly proven to be a convenient way of connecting. However, it’s still important for solicitors to nurture that relationship between solicitor and client, and that choosing a video call is equally as beneficial for the client. Armed with the tips and pointers we have shared in this article, we are sure you’ll be able successfully connect with your clients through video calls.
And if you’d like to learn more about how law firms can embrace technology and reap the benefits of doing so, check out our webinar Pivot to Digital. In this webinar, we dive into the digital world and how advances in technology are transforming the way legal work is done. You can watch this webinar and many more on replay here.
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