Why the Frictionless Client Experience Is A Legal Fiction

Most of today’s clients have grown accustomed to a frictionless customer experience long before they ever step foot over our office threshold or log in to an online client portal. Most likely, within hours of their first encounter with a lawyer, today’s client has tapped the screen on their phone to summon a car from Uber, or careened through the EZ-Pass Lane on the toll road barely slowing down or located a pair of shoes on Amazon Prime while waiting on line at the grocery store and ordered them for next day delivery. They’ve arrived home after work, called out to Alexa to turn on the lights, sat down to a healthy dinner prepared from ingredients delivered in a box that shows up on the doorstep three times a week, and then headed out to an evening yoga class that they registered for through the gym’s phone app.

This type of seamless lifestyle is what’s known as the frictionless customer experience. The frictionless experience caters to the growing “don’t make me think” mindset – by enabling customers to satisfy their needs as easily as flipping a switch.

Is it any wonder that consumers, accustomed to having the world at their fingertips – are mildly annoyed at having to take time out of their work day to meet with their lawyer at the office? Or to review an 8 page representation agreement full of words they barely comprehend. Or having to return home, sign the engagement agreement in pen, write a check, then find an envelope and stamp to send it – all because they forgot their check book and your firm didn’t take credit cards.  Or to have to pick up the phone and call for a 2 minute question because your office emphatically does. not. accept. texts. As if it weren’t sucky enough to have to deal with a legal matter, many lawyers make a bad situation even worse by adding three levels of complexity at every level.

Given the mindset of today’s client, you’d think that regulators would embrace each and every advancement that might contribute to a frictionless client experience. Like Avvo Legal Services , where a prospective client enters a credit card number, pays a flat fee and can have divorce papers or an estate plan prepared by a lawyer without further delay. Or that regulators would have jumped out in front to proactively encourage lawyers to accept credit cards and to communicate through the cloud for most cases where Edward-Snowden level security isn’t required. Instead, it’s today’s clients who have had to drag lawyers, who have had to drag regulators kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century.

Today’s clients have frictionless options. They’re called Legal Zoom and Rocket Lawyer and many of the other online legal services that make it as quick and easy to procure legal services as ordering a book on Amazon or dinner from Blue Apron or a ride from Uber. Sure, these services aren’t provided by lawyers but clients won’t care. Because at the end of the day, clients want a frictionless experience with lawyers just as with other providers – and lawyers and those who regulate them are nothing but a big bump in the road.

Of course, even without a change in ethics rules, there’s much that lawyers can do to create a frictionless client experience. What are you doing to make your clients’ lives easier?


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