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3 simple customer service ideas that accelerated our growth

When I was still a practicing attorney, I sat down to brainstorm business ideas for the legal technology company I wanted to start. The very first thing I wrote on my legal pad was “customer service.” As ideas for the business became clearer and better developed, “customer service” became retraced so much that eventually the indentions showed up on the next several pages of the pad. Every idea I had ultimately came back to customer service being the key differentiator between my company and the competition.

Today, Alt Legal is a growing company that operates in a niche community of intellectual property lawyers. If all of the IP attorneys in the United States lived in a city, it would be slightly larger than an average-sized US town. I try to think about Alt Legal as if we were a small pizzeria in that town. We would get to know our neighbors, learn their needs, and make an honest living keeping them happy.

For those unfamiliar, the norm for many legacy legaltech vendors, particularly IP docketing software companies, is to be apathetic towards their customers’ needs and plights. They charge ridiculous “set up” fees (often exceeding $10,000). They require multi-year contracts that are nearly impossible to terminate. They provide ill-designed, difficult-to-use software and then charge extra for training and support.

We're challenging this status quo. We don’t lock customers into a long-term, costly contract, instead we offer great service month-over-month and have still kept our average monthly attrition rate under 1%. The conventional legal tech customer service strategy is based upon nickle-and-diming their customers to pay for every service. But that flies in the face of what actually benefits the customer and company. In that vein, we never charge for our support services: migration, training and support are completely free.

Over the years, Alt Legal has grown tremendously. We owe our growth to our automated technology and our customer service—a stark contrast to our competitors. To ensure that we always remain a customer-centric company, we’ve identified three guiding principles:

  1. Treat your customers as more than just customers. We would be nowhere without our customers. They are literally and metaphorically our partners in building the best IP docketing software on the market. Our customers brag about our service, introduce us to their colleagues, and sometimes even invest their own money in our company. They’re also our advocates and friends. (Fun fact: For the second year in a row, we are offering our customers housing in our rental home during the annual International Trademark Association conference. Having a real relationship with our customers helps us better understand their needs). 
  2. Invest in your customers’ success. We don’t believe in charging for customer support or training. When our customers need assistance, we are easily accessible via live chat support, often even at odd hours of the night and weekends. We’ve even FaceTimed with our customers to give them the help they needed. From creating customer reports for client meetings within minutes of their requests to migrating thousands of filings overnight, we do our best to go above and beyond. We succeed when our customers succeed.
  3. Adapt to your customers, not the other way around. Our customers use our software to manage as few as ten intellectual property filings and as many as 20,000+. Their practices range from solos just getting started to premier boutiques focused on just IP law. We also serve both long-established large, nationwide law firms and in-house counsel. With such a varying customer base, we don’t do group webinars and don’t push prepackaged content.We cater to our customers’ needs and offer as many individualized on-demand trainings as they need.

Running a business according to these principles isn’t always cheap, and it is certainly never easy. But it has helped us grow. In less than three years, we’ve grown from managing a handful of portfolios to adeptly handling hundreds of thousands of filings and deadlines for top law firms and brands. Putting in that extra effort isn’t easy, but it is who we are as a company. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Nehal Madhani
Attorney + CEO, Alt Legal