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As the consumer and business legal markets change, law firms need to be ready to adapt. Using technology to cut costs, as well as increase convenience and transparency, can boost your firm's competitive advantage in today's marketplace. Along those lines, self scheduling software can really help with increasing, that holy grail of web-traffic metrics, conversion rates.
Put yourself in the shoes of your own online potential client. If you were checking out a prospective lawyer on the internet, and you were able to click a link on the law firm's website, and through that link, schedule an appointment ... Would you be impressed, or maybe relieved, that scheduling was that simple? Would you stop looking, and calling around, for other lawyers? If you were able to make an appointment, chances are you're done looking, at least until the appointment.
When it comes to scheduling appointments and meetings with current clients, attorneys might be wise to avoid, or at least limit, the use of self scheduling tools for clients (especially those clients apt to overuse the self scheduler). To that end, self-scheduling tools require management. Appointments should be confirmed, by both appointer and appointee. Fortunately, many other, more time consuming tasks, like sending email, text message, or telephone, reminders, to actual potential clients, can be automated. You can think of a self scheduler as a gatekeeper/assistant for your gatekeeper/assistant/yourself.
Although there are many perks to using an automated scheduler, there are drawbacks too. For instance, adversaries, or even potential clients, might get the wrong idea if they see too many open time slots on your calendar. To avoid this, you may want to limit your available calendar to a couple weeks, and perhaps block off a few times as unavailable. For attorneys really worried about appearing too available and those that actually have packed calendars, you may want to add a clear, unambiguous disclaimer that all appointments made online are tentative subject to confirmation.
After you receive a notification for an online appointment, you'll want to confirm that the appointment is in fact valid. Make sure your online booking form requires potential clients to give you consent to contact them to confirm and gather more information before the appointment, if necessary. After you've received confirmation of the appointment, you should plan on having an automated reminder message sent via email or text a day or two before the appointment.
Lastly, before you decide to use a self scheduling tool, make sure you think about any ethical ramifications, such as potential attorney client confidential information being leaked thanks to the information that shows up on your calendar. Make sure you select a robust tool designed to meet the needs of law firms, as your needs are much different than, as one FindLaw blogger put it, a dog salon.
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