Sometimes the Phone is the Best Way to Meet Expectations
Before you stop reading at the headline, let me say that I realize that this blog is about innovation. I also realize that the phone (notice I didn’t say the smartphone) has been around way to long to seem “innovative.” I am also a solo lawyer who uses the cloud, e-mail, and a Blackberry Playbook tablet as key components of my mostly paperless construction law practice. In short, I do see the need for technology where it actually helps with client relationships, efficiency, and where it eases the administrative and occasionally mind numbing tasks that we lawyers have to perform daily.
However, I find that clients still like to hear from their lawyer by phone and in person. Even in the corporate world, the phone is a wonderful tool. Even my most tech savvy clients want to hear my voice, talk things through and know that I’m available (at least during reasonable hours) to work through issues. Most business people (and particularly to contractors and construction pros I represent) really are face to face kind of people. While the use of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. can possibly lead to an initial contact, I find that my clients (and likely yours) are going to want to talk and meet with me before closing the deal. Frankly, I want to talk to them and meet them also to get a read on who it is I’m representing. The old fashioned land line (and, yes, a cell phone to talk (not text) on) go a long way toward setting and meeting client expectations.
Also, the phone can take less time (read money to a client) than a long e-mail exchange with ideas flying through the cloud. Cris-crossing e-mails can at times lead to more confusion than a 5 minute phone call. This leads to lower bills (or if a flat fee proposition, lower time spent for you) and that leads to a happier client.
Finally, remember that every one of our clients’ matters is a huge deal to them and something that is consuming much of their time. That matter may be one of many for their attorney (and hopefully is), but clients need to feel like they’re your only client. The personal touch through a simple occasional phone call or meeting can keep that feeling alive.
In short, do not ignore the great advantages of technology and the “cloud,” but don’t forget that old standby: the telephone.