SMS Messaging for Personal Injury Solicitors
Since the withdrawal of legal aid for personal injury claims in 2000, a lot has changed in the legal claims industry. Not only are the funding options for claims completely different, the marketplace has also become increasingly competitive, making it harder and harder for companies to stand out from the crowd. With most claimants now settling for fixed scale payments in order to reach a quicker resolution, customer service is quickly becoming the biggest differentiating factor in today’s market. So how can SMS Messaging help personal injury specialists win customers time and again and increase their market penetration? In this article, we look at how SMS messaging can work for such firms.
How not to use SMS Messaging
Before looking more closely at how legal companies could be using SMS Messaging, it is worth first noting how they definitely should not be using it. One of the most important things to bear in mind is that current legislation explicitly forbids the sending of unsolicited SMS messages by companies. In recent years, substantial fines have been issued for companies engaging in such ‘cold-calling’ practices, and amongst these some personal injury specialists. Almost everybody, it would appear, has received the now infamous ‘Your recent accident’ text message, and this kind of fishing behaviour is a quick way to end up on the wrong side of the law. So rule number one – make sure you have the client or potential client’s permission before sending SMS messages.
Step 1 – A personal Introduction
Although the exact procedure may vary from firm to firm, the typical personal injuries claim will follow the same set of steps. In most instances, once a customer has made an initial approach to the company, a representative will be needed to manage the documentation and collect the relevant information and evidence. This person will often then manage the administrative side of the case through to conclusion. Research indicates that when it comes to legal matters, trust and transparency are of great importance in reassuring the client. SMS messaging is a great way to build these from the outset. One way to do this is to introduce the customer’s point of contact.
“Dear Mr Roberts, we are pleased to inform you that your personal claim manager is Liam Jones. Your claim pack has now been sent and you should receive your pack within the next 7 days. In the meantime, please call Liam on 01939 435673 should you have any questions. Text STOP to 87007 to opt out of these text message updates”
Although short, the message is very informative and also reassuring in tone. It gives a message to the client that they matter, and that things are already in progress – an all important message in an industry where things have been known to take a long time to happen. The message ensures that the company is seen to be approachable, which is known to build trust, and also complies with the requirement to include an opt-out.
A natural follow up to this message might be used a few days later.
“Dear Mr Roberts, you should shortly receive your claim pack. For information on how to complete it, please visit oururl.ly. If you require any further assistance, don’t hesitate to call me on 01939 435673. Liam from Claims Direct. Text STOP to 87007 to opt out of these text message updates.”
Again, the simple SMS helps to maintain a feeling of trust and reassurance.
Step 2 – Getting the claim underway
Once the customer has completed and returned their claim form, their attention will often turn to questions such as “Did I complete it correctly?” or “Have I sent everything they need?”. Another frequent question is “OK, I’ve sent my papers so what next?”. This early uncertainty can quickly turn into doubt – which can have a negative effect on customer perception if allowed to grow.
Although many companies do produce very clear guides to the process both in printed form and online, clients – whose time is typically limited – tend to focus on filling in the forms rather than reading literature. A good time to remind them about how things work is actually the lull once they’ve completed and sent off the paperwork.
The first point of reassurance is to let the customer know that their paperwork has been received safely. This is also a great time to let them know what to expect next.
“Dear Mr Roberts, I’ve now received your claim pack and everything is in order. Not sure what happens next? Visit yourpageurl.ly for our step by step guide to the claim process. Have a question? Call me on on 01939 435673 and I’ll be happy to help. Liam from Claims Direct. Text STOP to 87007 to opt out of these text message updates.”
At this point, the customer will feel relieved and confident once more that they have chosen the right company to look after their claim. Above and beyond this, the aim is for the customer to feel positively impressed. If this has been achieved, they may even recommend the company to their friends and family at this point. The most important thing to remember once this level of trust has been established is not to lose the edge.
Step 3 – milestone markers
As the claim proceeds through the next few steps, it is important to communicate the progress to the client in much the same fashion as in previous communications. They should be kept updated with what’s happening, and if a document is to be posted out that requires the client’s attention, this should be supported by an SMS – and of course, so too should its safe return.
If there is a long delay at any stage – as tends to happen in legal proceedings – it may be worth sending a friendly “everything is OK” message to make sure that the client doesn’t feel forgotten.
Step 4 – a successful outcome
Assuming that a successful outcome has been achieved, this is another great moment to send an SMS. While such as message should be congratulatory in tone, it should also avoid being seen as overly celebratory, or indeed as condescending. We have to remember that even if they have been awarded damages, our client is ultimately a victim and sensitivity to the circumstances should always be a major consideration.
In most cases, there will be a delay between a claim being agreed and the final settlement being paid to the client. This is another great opportunity to send the client a ‘What happens next?’ link by SMS.
Step 5 – rating the service
Having used SMS messaging to great effect throughout the personal injury claim process, it would be a wasted opportunity not to use the same medium to invite the customer to give their feedback – which in this case should be very positive. The key is to make it as easy as possible for the customer to participate in a feedback survey. This may be facilitated by using an SMS-based survey, or by sending a link to an online survey. In either case, makes sure you maintain the personal touch and sense of rapport that has been established through the course of the relationship to encourage completion. You should of course always thank the customer for putting their trust in your company.
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