At its core, a law firm is a business. And businesses need enough funds to operate smoothly. While the business side of things is important, this often means that law firms find themselves spending too much time on billing and collecting payments and not enough time practicing law.
Law firms want to receive payments on time. Clients want transparency and convenience. The best way to meet both of those needs is to introduce a client portal.
How client portals streamline the payment process
Paying for services online is fast becoming the norm. Clients expect convenient payment options from all of their vendors, and their lawyer is no exception. The easier it is to pay your invoices, the more likely clients are to do it on time.
Online payments are convenient for clients, but they also make a significant impact on a law firm’s billing and collections process. With online payments, law firms can:
- Get paid faster
- Spend less time on past-due collections
- Minimize manual errors, write-offs, and other drains on profitability
- Ensure safe transactions with PCI compliance and other security measures
On the client side, client portals reduce guesswork by storing all client billing information in one place. With client portals, clients can benefit from:
- Convenient access to make payments online
- Viewing full billing history
- Saving credit card information for easier payments
- Clear information regarding any due balances
Client portal best practices for law firms
When implemented right, client portals ease the payment process for law firms and their clients. If you don’t use a well-planned roll-out strategy, even the best systems can fall flat.
Make sure your staff is on the same page
Even if the client portal is easy to implement, you need to ensure that your staff knows how to use the system. Take some time to roll out the product internally before you introduce it to your clients.
Once your team is on board and trained, they can serve as a resource for clients to help them feel comfortable while using the client portal.
When onboarding employees, make sure your firm:
- Creates a launch plan with clear accountability and leaders
- Provides detailed training on the software
- Demonstrates how the program benefits your team, as well as your clients
- Shows specific use cases in employee training
- Provides specific talking points and messaging tips for staff to use when they communicate with clients
Discuss the new features with long-term clients
For long-term clients, it can be a big adjustment (and potentially a negative experience) if you shift from your old payment system to a client portal without clear and frequent communication about the process and the new tool.
Create a set of client communications pieces in advance of the portal rollout, explaining the new system. Emphasize its benefits, including:
- Increased transparency
- Easier online payments
- Quick access to billing history
Once your system launches, follow up with your clients to answer any questions they may have. Consider drafting an FAQ sheet or adjusting your rollout communications as you receive more feedback.
Finally, keep in mind that not all long-term clients will want to switch to a new payment system. Be sure to communicate clearly about all of the payment options that are available.
Communicate with new clients from the very beginning
Client onboarding can feature a lot of documentation and explanations, and the idea of adding even more information may seem overwhelming. However, clear and up-front communication can only make your clients feel more comfortable with your firm.
- Set expectations: discuss your client portal and payment processes early in the onboarding process to prevent any unwanted surprises.
- Explain the benefits: emphasize how client portals can benefit your clients. Portals may seem like an extra step to payment processes, but they’re also much more secure for your client’s continued confidentiality.
- Provide FAQs: every new system will lead to some common questions. How do I change my password? Where can I see my billing history? Make sure you and your staff are prepared to work through these with your clients.
- Don’t use too much technical jargon: lawyers may be in the practice of using complex terminologies and language, but your clients are not. Remember to keep it simple. Not sure if your instructions are clear? Have outside parties review your communications and instructions to see if they can follow your documentation without getting confused or frustrated.
Streamline your payment process with Tabs3’s new client portal
Learn how Tabs3’s client portal can transform your billing process and schedule a walkthrough demo today.