SPECIAL FEATURE: The easiest way to limit conveyancer stress? Manage expectations and avoid jargon
SPECIAL FEATURE: reallymoving.com provides their insight into the easiest way of limiting conveyancer stress by managing expectations and avoiding jargon.
In many ways, the Stamp Duty holiday has been both a blessing and a curse – on one hand it’s revitalized the property industry after lockdown, and on the other it’s potentially caused a bottleneck, with buyers desperate to move before the deadline.
But what does that mean for conveyancers? Working longer hours, with higher workloads and more pressure from clients than ever before, it’s clear that this level of work is unsustainable. Our conveyancing partners have told us that they’re dealing with up to 4 times their usual workload and many have taken on new staff members to deal with the increase in demand.
So, what support can we offer conveyancers right now, and what are some actionable steps that might make their work a little easier?
With such huge numbers of buyers racing towards completion, it’s no surprise that some processes are likely to be slower. Whether that’s receiving searches back from the local authorities, waiting on mortgage offers or clients receiving documents by post, there are so many elements of the pandemic that have had an impact on property purchases, and conveyancers just trying to do their jobs.
The key here is to manage expectations.
As suggested in a joint statement from The Society of Licensed Conveyancers, the Bold Legal Group and The Conveyancing Association, taking the time to explain the delay is key:
“The message that conveyancers would like clients and their estate agents to take on board is – understand that transactions are going to take longer than usual to progress and please be patient. Continually chasing your lawyer actually makes them less productive and indirectly is a further cause of delay in the process.”
Similarly, if your client is likely to miss the Stamp Duty holiday deadline, it’s worth being upfront and telling them in advance.
It’s often a disagreeable circle that some of the negative reviews of conveyancing firms focus on the communication side – clients potentially want more updates, but if there’s nothing to update on, or the time taken on updating them puts you behind, how can you win?
Automated platforms that show the progress through the conveyancing journey can be useful here, as can blanket emails, or even auto-responses that reinforce that you are working but are incredibly busy and will only provide updates if there is significant progress. Acknowledgement is key.
Expect (and pre-empt) a lack of knowledge
Some of your clients might not have moved for years, and some may not have moved at all before. The language of moving home is second nature to you – you’re the experts. It’s easy to forget that for some, that technical language can feel confusing and exclusionary.
Giving your clients guides, timelines and glossaries can make the process easier, not only for them but for you too. If your client feels confident in the process and has a clear sense of what’s coming next, what they need to do, or what a reasonable amount of time for certain tasks is, they’re less likely to bother you. This will save you time explaining the same processes over and over, fielding needless calls and emails, and limit the amount you have to handhold.
Ensuring these are part of your Client Care Letters is key, and as a team continually identifying repeated questions across the board will mean these stay as relevant as possible.
Clients, whether they’re First Time Buyers or experienced movers, can still fall prey to negative headlines, motivated estate agents and the pressures of a chain. Your resources and support in advance will help them hold their nerve, and know that everything is going ahead as it should.
Make FAQs accessible
Collating your frequently asked questions can help save you time. If not already included in your Client Care Letter, send them to the client upon instruction, and this way they can check them before they call you. It means if things do get a little heated, or there are higher levels of frustration, you can refer back to these.
Your FAQs are also an opportunity to learn about your customers. If they all have the same questions, there might even be more you can do to make things easier on yourselves – covering certain sections in your original call, or changing the language you use. You may even want to feature these on your website and link to them in your email signature.
Automate where possible
Most businesses are comfortable with the value of automation – take an automatic response email, for example. It’s simple, set up once, gives a client peace of mind and stops them calling for something unnecessary.
Where possible, automating responses, answers or processes will make your lives easier. Just like FAQs, if multiple clients raise similar issues and it’s possible to automate, it’s probably worth it.
Be clear about Stamp Duty
Whilst these times have been unprecedented for many reasons, the Stamp Duty holiday has had a huge impact. Even with an extension of the holiday deadline, it’s important to be clear with the customer so you know that they will go ahead with completion with eyes wide open.
We’ve seen some great examples from firms sending out emails explaining the expected timeframe, the potential for costs and what the customers can do to be prepared. These are the firms who will likely have the lowest fall through rates, and the most active and informed customers.
When we’re dealing with a sustained high workload and frequent deadlines, it’s easy to get frustrated with clients. After all, they won’t understand how many other transactions you’re working on, where they sit in the priorities list or the frustrations that come with your daily workload.
If you do get frustrated, it’s worth reminding yourselves that these transactions have become every day for you, but for many people it’s the biggest monetary transaction they’ll make, and they’re just looking for reassurance.
Hopefully some of the steps we’ve suggested will help you to avoid stressful conflict, or automate responses to allow you more time to get on with your workload. But remember, taking a moment to empathise with the client, and give them the context to empathise with you, can go a long way.
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Main article photograph courtesy of Pixabay