There are seven key ways you can disrupt your law firm’s content and communication successfully. Many of them you can start doing right now. In this article, we look at what they are and how to apply them.
People don’t often consider law to be an area in which disruption is even possible. Often, those people don’t conceive of how disruption is possible at the every day level. When you have ‘thought leadership’ in your five‐year plan, active disruption is important.
Before we start thinking that ‘disruption’ is a negative word, let’s define what we mean. In the sense of disrupting a system, we take it to mean: Finding new ways of doing things. Or, interrupting the status quo. Or, moving away from we’ve always done it this way to what is the best way to do it?
In this post we look at seven ways you can use disruption successfully, and think of new ways of communicating with people. It is important to note that we communicate with our team members and staff, as well as our customers. Very often, firms think exclusively about their customers. Meanwhile, internal communication is poor and morale is slipping away. Where possible, we have outlined elements that can be applied to your team, as well as to your staff.
1. Why does your work flow this way?
Businesses of all kinds tend to build systems as they go. It’s very rare that a business owner will devise a system from the beginning that is designed to drive efficiency, while covering off risk and management.
It is worthwhile sitting down for half an hour and sketching out your workflow, and then asking yourself does it need to happen this way?
2. Take yourself out of the picture and see what happens
Decision makers tend to like to control things. However, it’s very likely that the things you are controlling can be handled by someone else. Efficient administrators make fabulous project managers. New associates can be given the role of Subject Matter Experts, and it can be used as part of their development. Perhaps you put in place hands‐off approval at the end, so you still have visibility and the final say, without getting tied up in details.
If you were to take yourself out of the workflow, how would it function? If it would fall over, you have a problem and need to find a way to fix it.
3. Test the reading level of your content and communications
There’s a very simple way of testing the reading level of your content. Go to this website and paste the text into the box. If your content has a reading level above Grade 9, and you are appealing to the population in general, it’s too complicated. Aim for a reading level of Grade 6 or 7.
Simplifying your work will be really difficult. It is also one of the most important ways of relating to your clientele more easily.
4. Map your customer journey, and question it
Do you know your customer journey? Do you know all of the stages of your interaction (and potential interaction) with your customers? If the answer is no, you have a job to do. You need to know all the phases of your customer’s journey, from research to exit. You also need to know how to stop that journey from being a flat line, so you can turn it into a circle. In this way, you will have a plan for helping them to come back.
Once you know the stages of that journey, ask yourself the question: At what stages does our content touch the customer? If you only have content for the early part of when they’re already in contact with you, you are missing out on a lot of opportunities for building your clientele community.
5. Ask ‘how long?’
Your potential client views your website, and sends you an email from your contact form. How long does it take you to respond?
Your potential client turns into a paying client. How long does it take you to give them a sense of what comes next? (Or, maybe you don’t do this.)
Your paying client has a matter that is going to take months to resolve. How long do you take between touching base with them? Or do you wait for them to contact you to find out what is going on?
If you pride yourself on customer service, on being customer focused, or on being accessible, and your customers are doing all the work, then you need to rethink your process. You also need to rethink this positioning if all of your content is about you. Truthfully, when we see law firm websites that are all me, me, me, me, me or us, us, us, us, us — while claiming to be customer‐centric, we become pillars of skepticism about whether the firm is really walking the talk.
Similarly, if your team needs your approval, how long does it take you to make a decision? Do you even have a written process for making that decision? If you disregard its importance to you (even if it might be vital to your team’s deadlines), or you don’t have a process for decision‐making then you also need to rethink your process.
6. How easy is it?
Do you make the process of finding, accessing, gaining, or sorting, information and content simple? Yes, your customers need a simple and clear pathway to a resolution: That’s a given. Does all of your content (online, or in print) do that?
More to the point, what’s your internal communication process like? How long does it take your team members to do each task, if they have to find information? Do you regularly battle with old versions of files, unfamiliar structures, or any lack of governance internally? Do they wait around for weeks, for review of items? And if you are communicating things regularly, do you take up everyone’s time and do it in a meeting, or do you have a better way of doing things?
The same thing applies for decision‐making. How easy is it? Do you have a meeting, and a presentation, and a meeting, and long periods of rumination? If you do, and if you’re a small firm, then your process needs work. For project decisions, some meetings to determine the structure, steps, and budget will be necessary. Making a decision on one part of that project should never require multiple meetings. If it does, then possibly your project management framework is ineffective or broken.
7. What are you not measuring, and why?
If you don’t know who your customers are, ask why that is the case. If you have trouble getting basic information on the first phone call to reception, ask why that is the case. If you are not measuring the impact of your workflow, lack of information governance, spend on marketing or networking or training, or really don’t know how long your sales funnel is, ask why.
It is only in looking at what you are not doing, and asking yourself honestly why not that you will move into a position to disrupt what you are doing.
Focusing on how you do business has a positive impact on your content frameworks
You might wonder why measuring workflow and management time, or your customers, is important to your content. And if so, please call us right now, because we can help you. Put simply, knowing your customers is essential if you are to communicate with them in the right way, by pitching it at the right level, presenting it in the right format, and talking about the right things.
Measuring your workflow, management, and ease helps you to cut the fat out of the process, work faster, and adapt more quickly. If you don’t have a process for decision‐making, then by the time you’ve decided to do something the market needs, the market will have moved on.
Of course, the above seven steps will only work if you are honest. And if you’re not honest about how your firm is functioning, or you are avoiding facing that information, then there’s a distinct possibility that you are not the right person to be running it.