Why Law Firms Should Consider Text Messaging to Communicate
The benefits of texting
Clear communication is crucial to all relationships, but it is particularly important in a professional capacity. A fluid exchange of ideas increases productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction – three key components that bring ease to any workday.
Although a certain degree of decorum is expected, effectively conveying your intended message should be more important than the medium used for delivery.
And in today’s modern world where convenience reigns supreme, text messaging is becoming more popular as a professional tool – but is it appropriate for a law firm?
Statistics show that 81 percent of Americans use text messaging daily, with texts being twice as popular as calls. The reality is that text messaging is easier to manage than direct person-to-person contact; texting is often faster, more discrete, and easier to respond to than a phone call.
Many businesses are using that trend to their advantage, not only to make the customer experience more convenient but also to streamline their own efforts. Good communication is whatever works, right?
Emails often go unread, calls are likely sent to voicemail, but texts are usually seen immediately and are replied to faster than either.
Although it can be seen as a negative versus a positive, exchanging text messages can lend a more casual and personal feel to an exchange. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice professionalism – it just gives the illusion of easy access and availability.
As attorney Kendra Stephen told Forbes: “You want to communicate with your clients in a manner they are comfortable with. If your client likes texting, use it. It’s all about keeping your client happy. I would recommend discussing methods of communication in the engagement letter.”
Case in point
Now how would this work in the practice of law? The most obvious answers involve scheduling appointments, issuing updates, and sending reminders about documents that need to be dropped off or signed. Not only are you more likely to receive confirmation but there’s also something about seeing dates, time, and follow-ups in the text that may make a client more likely to remember.
It also creates an easily followed trail of data in case there’s any doubt that the information was shared.
There are also a variety of software programs for professionals that allow texts to be sent and received through business landlines, and that can sync up with appointment scheduling tools to help organize the process.
Another possibility is text message marketing. A 2015 ruling by the Florida Bar decided that attorneys could reach out to prospective clients via SMS within certain parameters such as:
- Firms must wait 30 days after an accident to send a solicitation
- Messages must disclose how contact information was obtained
- Messages must state that it is an advertisement
- The sender must pay any costs incurred by the recipient as a result of the text
- Recipient must have the ability to opt-out of future text messages
- Messages must instruct the recipient to disregard if they already have representation
Laws vary by state, so check with the state bar about possibilities and restrictions if you’re considering a text message marketing campaign.
Ultimately, it’s about the client and finding the best way to communicate with them. If they prefer texting to fit their schedule, it’s best to accommodate. Finding success in business – and life – often requires meeting people where they are at and establishing a comfortable relationship through trust and availability.
The trend of communicating through text message is more deeply engrained into our culture by the day, and refusing to utilize that valuable tool may not only be doing your business a disservice, but also the very people you are trying to reach and serve. Text messaging is no longer limited to informal dialog among friends; when used with careful consideration and a focused intention, SMS can help organize your communication efforts and introduce more ease into your business and the lives of your clients.
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