How one company director is using the pandemic to review staff structure and practices

Covid isn’t behind us

As it’s becoming clear that the pandemic isn’t ending anytime soon, conveyancers across the UK are responding to a new wave of vulnerable clients…

With the likelihood of a 4th lockdown looking possible and the idea of Covid being “behind us” unlikely, the whole country is in a state of constant change.  While the housing market has thrived over the last eighteen months, we have also experienced the other side of this boom – economic uncertainly and a rise in the level of clients buying and selling due to a change in their financial situation. Along with a general additional level of stress due to ever-changing circumstances, this has brought a high level of newly vulnerable clients our way.  People who are not ready to sell a property, those downsizing or going through divorce or the sudden loss of a loved one. The mental health of clients has often been tested to the extreme and we’ve had to adapt quick to this additional level of vulnerability, this is an ongoing challenge for us and we are noticing that it’s not easing off.

We follow strict procedures to identify vulnerable clients but the pandemic has hugely broadened this spectrum. Those who may not normally struggle are finding it difficult to cope with the process of buying or selling property or timescales.  To respond, we have put extra measures in place to support those that need additional care, starting with the basics.

Where possible, keep it simple

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to our profession which makes each client case different from the next.  This doesn’t always make our job easy but by identifying the needs of a client and helping them navigate the process with as little friction as possible saves time and stress for everyone in the long-run. There are many ways to do this, for example, we offer both hard copy and online services.   Some clients don’t want to use online processes although we actually find that with a bit of guidance, our elderly and vulnerable clients find the online services easier to use.  It’s all about taking the extra time to guide them through what’s required of them and carefully managing their expectations.

Ongoing commitment to staff training

Experienced conveyancers take for granted the skills they have honed over the years when it comes to dealing with more vulnerable clients and it’s crucial we pass these learnings down to junior members of staff to equip them with the language and tools to handle challenging cases and clients themselves.  All of our staff have access to a training portal, which includes a library of courses on personal development, communication skills and mental health support.

Compassion for third-parties

If a client needs a little hand-holding in the process, you can usually guarantee they need the same with their estate agent and other third parties too. By understanding this, we can develop better working relationships with our industry colleagues, estate agents etc and deliver an all-round stress-free service. Better communication all-round only leads to a more positive experience for everyone.

One of the most rewarding aspects of conveyancing is the human connection, we are lucky to exist in a part of the law where we get to deal with so many people in real-life scenarios.  But this also comes with heightened emotions and taking the extra time to connect with a client and third parties is the best way to turn a stressful situation into a positive experience.

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