Tips and tricks to keep the balance on mental health
I’ve had the opportunity to help a conveyancing firm over the last year implement new tools and processes aimed to create a simpler, more effective and better experience for case managers and home movers. This has been helped by working with case managers that are dedicated to clients, always striving to do their best (at all hours!) and see the value in making improvements. However, I’ve also seen when chasing perfection can result in aspects of the transaction getting stuck, estate agents and clients repeatedly chasing for updates (and not treating with kindness) creating a downward spiral that impacts mental health and wellbeing.
How does this happen?
The last year of covid has seen a shift to email as the primary form of contact in many industries; conveyancing is no exception. In conjunction with this I saw a shift in expectations on the timeliness of responses – despite the challenges of a pandemic, people wanted more, and faster, than pre-covid times. I observed that a typical case manager’s email inbox would consist 66% client updates and chases, with estate agent (25%) communications duplicating a significant volume of client communications.
As a result of this I saw great Case Managers, who once had a great balance of completing conveyancing activities against communications get drawn into a vicious circle of communications that distracted them from completing the important conveyancing tasks required at the right time, that in turn resulted in nastier communications and complaints from home-movers. This stress and pressure ultimately impacted mental health.
What did we do about this situation?
What I learned is that there are tactics to address this situation, to relieve pressure and for case managers to get that feeling of regaining control over their mental wellbeing. Here are my top tips:
- Tip #1 – Reflect on your Way of Working. In really simple terms, there is time spent doing conveyancing activities, and time spent updating interested parties on progress. Maintaining a balance of these is critical to ensure a case manager and home-mover can progress the transaction in the best way, without the chasing or requesting updates! I observed that coaching a ‘rhythm’ into the working day was a great help. For example, working on Contract Approvals first thing when it’s quieter provides a good opportunity to focus on the task in hand. Then spend a bit of time on your communications, then switch back to a conveyancing activity (why not check out your Enquiries or Source of Funds?). Consciously choosing the task and oscillating between communications and conveyancing activity begins to restore the balance.
- Tip #2 – Find the Best Way of doing the things that take the most time. Have you ever noticed that some people in your firm seem to have a way of getting complicated things done with less hassle? Now is the time to observe and document how they do it, and share it across the wider team so everyone can begin to benefit from shared expertise. As you combine this with Tip#1, you will find that you can oscillate between more things and begin to look further ahead in the upcoming requirements of the home-movers conveyancing journey.
- Tip #3 – As you continue to address the mix in your inbox and complete work on conveyancing files, proactively update your home-movers to prevent the chasing and excess communications before they have chance to occur. For example, as the Contract Approval is being completed, check ahead and see that you have all the details to complete your Source of Funds, and if you don’t, bundle your requirements from clients into one communication as opposed to multiple emails.
A not-so-secret ingredient that helps position case managers on the front-foot is getting the right information as early as possible. Different firms have gone about this in different ways, from scanning forms, implementing apps and other digital options on the Law Society standards. More recently the Buyer and Seller Property Information (BASPI) form has been trialled to get this information up-front at the point of purchase/sale.
Either way there are opportunities to share information earlier across all parties; and by home-movers, estate agents and conveyancers working together the best ways of working will surface so we can all treat each other with kindness and nurture mental health and wellbeing.
If you’re interested in exploring more on these lessons learned, please email [email protected]