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June 2018

5 tips for using text messaging for client communications

The life of a lawyer can be chaotic, to say the least. A typical day involves case research, drafting documents, meetings, court appearances, hours of phone calls and emails upon emails. Naturally, this makes time management a big issue. Thankfully, there’s a technology readily available to help streamline many of the daily activities that typically bog lawyers down: texting.

Texting has quickly become the preferred method of communication for individuals, and many businesses have begun adopting it as a more efficient way to communicate with their customers. A quick look at the numbers explain why that is:

  • 5 billion texts are sent every day
  • Texts have a 98 percent open rate vs. email’s 2 percent
  • Texts have a 45 percent response rate vs. email’s 2 percent

Here are five tips to follow when leveraging text messaging for client communication:

1. Set expectations upfront. Unclear expectations can be a relationship killer. Setting clear expectations on communication preferences and expectations will minimize confusion and lay the groundwork for a positive relationship.

First, make  sure your clients are comfortable receiving text message updates  and cover the bases. Are they expected to reply immediately? How often do you plan on communicating via text—daily, weekly? How many texts are too many? Lay it all out there.

2. Identify text time savers. Using text messaging for client communication can be an enormous boon for time management. Not only is it quicker and easier, but text is also great for areas where you can’t use the phone, i.e., the courtroom or certain public settings.

Here are some ways your law firm can use text messaging for speedier and more efficient communication:

  •  Scheduling meetings
  • Court date notifications
  • Case status updates
  • Internal staff communication
  • Payment reminders
  • Sending links to documents
  • Automated messages (office hours, directions)
  • Satisfaction surveys

In order to ensure these texts are getting the job done, make sure they are clear and concise. Of course, some conversations will always be better suited for email, in person or on the phone, but the above should give you a feel for the areas you can streamline through SMS.

3. Use a secure service. Obviously, confidentially is key. Using a secure service will provide greater security over standard phone-to-phone text messages. Many business texting solutions also allow for high-level encryption and security to ensure messages are safe from hackers.

These services will also enable you to easily see all your contacts and text message history in one place, which makes it more convenient to find and message clients. You can also use some of these services from your computer, meaning that you won’t constantly be switching from device to device.

4. Leverage text surveys. Surveys are a great way to ensure that you’re providing stellar service. A once-a-year survey might sound great to some, but how can an annual report improve a daily interaction? Texts provide an easier way to frequently request and collect feedback and will allow you to keep a pulse on your relationships.

5. Be professional. While abbreviations and emojis may be okay when texting friends and family, your texts should maintain the level of professionalism that your other forms of communication have. While texting can save you precious time and improve client communication, it’s important to remember that it is a complement and not a replacement.

The bottom line is lawyers have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Utilizing text messaging can help alleviate some of the communication issues that can cause delays and even harm client relationships. Next time your client wants to reach you, just say, “Text me!”

Ford Blakely is founder and CEO of Zingle. As a frustrated consumer with an entrepreneurial spirit, he sought to figure out a quicker way to order his latte in the mornings. He did – and in 2009, Zingle was born as the first two-way, business-and-customer communication platform. Currently, thousands of hotels, food retailers and other businesses use the software platform to increase efficiency, revenue and customer loyalty by providing a quick and simple way to communicate with customers through text messaging – the preferred method of communication today.

This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of Law Technology Today.

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.
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