How you communicate didn’t used to be a decision. You either sent clients information by mail or called on the phone. Yes, you can give your clients amazing service when they can reach you and you can reach them 24/7. But because you can reach your client instantly, does that mean you should? At the same time, do you want clients to have immediate and direct access to you, 24/7?
Texting clients or having clients texting attorneys has become second nature for many practices, particularly if the client and the attorney have a good relationship. Texts and emails are notorious for communication snafus. What if a short text does not adequately express key information on which a decision needs to be made? Or if the attorney misunderstands the client’s text?
You know your clients best. You know which ones need to be managed more than others. The same holds true for managing your communication with clients.
In many instances, there are simply too many nuances for texting to be a suitable means of
communication. To protect yourself and your client, send a text indicating that you’d prefer to have a live conversation or that you will be in touch when you have fully reviewed pending materials.
Cell phone calls are different than calls you take while seated at your desk in your office. You want to provide clients with the best possible service, but there may be times when just because they can reach you does not mean it is the right time for you to have a detailed conversation. You’re on the ball field with your kid’s softball team? Maybe that’s not the time to dig into an issue on their estate. If you are not able to properly address the substance of their call, be prepared to tell them that.
Some attorneys use a work cell phone and a personal cell phone. That is a viable solution, in that you can provide a mobile phone number to clients so they have access to you, while preserving your privacy.
Another cell phone/texting issue: record keeping. Unlike emails or reports to a file, keeping records of your texts will require some additional effort. There are software programs that can save and print out text messages for record keeping and court purposes. If you go this route, test the program fully for compatibility and ease of use before deploying it throughout the office.
You could take screenshots of text messages, but if they are lengthy, that may end up being a bigger project than necessary.
Track your cell phone calls the same way you track calls from your office. Time and the substance of the conversation needs to be documented.
Last question: how are you tracking billing the time you spend texting clients? You are probably tracking your time on mobile phone conversations the same way that you are tracking landline conversations. But remember when you are texting, the time is not just the amount of time sending the text. You are likely stopping another task, refocusing your attention on the text, and then it takes time to refocus back on what you were doing before the text arrived. Respect your time and make sure to report it accordingly.