Tag Archives: legal consumer

Making your law firm client-centred

How satisfied are your clients with your services? Do you know? An important metric to measure client satisfaction is the NPS, i.e. the net promoter score. What is it? Well, you surely have encountered the mini surveys before, where they ask you to give a score from 0 to 10 on how likely you are to recommend the services or product you are using. Scores from 0 to 6 are not considered good, scores of 7 and 8 are all right, and scores 9 and 10 are what you are aiming for.

Now, most law firms do not achieve these high scores when it comes to client satisfaction. In a previous article, we already pointed out that there is a chasm between what lawyers think their clients want, and what those clients actually want. This disparity is greatest for three items: when the clients want to meet their lawyer in person, when they want to speak to their lawyer on the phone, and when it comes to balancing service with cost.

Now that the Coronavirus is forcing you to rethink the way your law firm works, why not take this as an opportunity to also make your law firm more client-centred? Not only will it give you a competitive advantage, legal consumers are also increasingly demanding it. And if they are satisfied with their experience, they are more likely to recommend you. After all, referrals still are the way most legal consumers find their lawyers. You can only benefit from making your law firm more client-centred.

So, how does one make one’s law firm more client-centred? The Lawyerist website recently published a ‘Complete Guide to Law Firm Client Experience’, and that is an excellent place to start. It explains how building a client-centred law firm requires paying attention to your client’s journey, as well as to your client’s experience. Lawyerist breaks the process down in 8 items. Here is a summary.

  1. The difference between client experience and client service: Your client’s experience is the sum of all his or her interactions with your law firm, from your website to the last consultation. It affects and is experienced by all your clients and determines how they feel towards you and your firm. Client Experience needs to be proactive and intuitive. Client Service on the other hand, is the subjective experience for each client when they need to interact with anyone in your firm, at any given moment when they encounter some issue or problem that needs to be resolved. Client Service is problem oriented and is reactionary by nature.
  2. Understanding your clients: to better understand your clients, their needs, desires, and expectations, it is useful to create client personas. These are descriptions of your ideal client. These profiles can be as specific as you want them to be, but should at least determine what your ideal client’s wants, needs, and expectations would be. Knowing this can also help you understand how they might be feeling when they come to you for help. It will allow you to better empathize with your client, and to you create a more personalized and attentive client experience for them, which is something all consumers of services always appreciate.
  3. Create a clear Law Firm Client Experience Journey: What is a client journey, or client experience journey? It is the entire process your client as a legal consumer with a legal issue that needs to be resolved goes through, when trying to resolve that issue through the services that your law firm offers. How do you want them to feel when they interact with your firm? How can you stay in control of the relationship and manage your clients’ expectations? Map your client’s journey, i.e. identify the different stages your client will go through: each stage should 1) represent a major milestone in the overall goal for your client during their time with your firm, and 2) have clear objectives and goals to meet. At every step, you need to communicate what you are doing with your clients to keep them in the loop. It is a good approach to visualise your clients’ journey. The article by Yolanda Cartusciello on client journey mapping (listed below) provides many useful insights. Cartusciello also refers to research that shows that companies that have transformed themselves to focus on the client journey across the organization have enjoyed a 20% improvement in client satisfaction, a 15-20% decrease in cost of serving their clients, a 20-30% increase in employee engagement, and, perhaps most convincingly, a 10-15% increase in revenue growth.
  4. Your Law Firm Client Experience begins online. In previous articles, we pointed out that most legal consumers check out the lawyers they consider hiring online first, before contacting them. This means their first impression of you is what comes up when they perform an online search on your name. The results may include your website, your reviews, and your social media profiles. You have to pay sufficient attention to all of them. We have previously published an article on online reputation management that addressed this.
  5. Create a connection with your clients. A lawyer-client relationship is built on trust. Building that trust already starts when your client finds you online. Let your personality shine on your website and social media profiles! Then, as soon as you are contacted, make it a top priority to give your client personalized attention. When you meet with your client, “ask them questions, be patient, and listen to what they have to say. Treat them with respect, and don’t be afraid to engage with them emotionally or to talk about yourself to relate to their situation. When you truly care about your clients, you’ll naturally want to do your best to help them out. People will feel this sincerity and respond in kind.” When talking about client experience and client journey, we already mentioned the importance of keeping your clients in the loop and communicating with them regularly. This, too, helps build trust and a connection with your clients. If your clients feel they do not know what the status of their case is, they will get frustrated and dissatisfied. Also, remember to always communicate securely with your clients, e.g., through your client portal.
  6. Getting everyone on your team onboard. All your clients’ interactions with your law firm contribute to how they experience their journeys with your firm. It should therefore be obvious that all this planning for your client experience only works if everyone at your firm is onboard and shares that common purpose of focusing on the client’s experience. One bad experience with anybody in your firm will lead to client dissatisfaction. Everybody should know how the client experience journey goes, what is expected of them, and what their responsibilities are. To this end, you can develop workflows, documents policies and procedures. It helps if everybody involved in a case can access previous communications, which most law firm management software typically allows.
  7. Capture feedback in real time. It is all good and well to decide to put the client’s experience central, but the ultimate test remains how the client does experience his or her journey with your firm. You need to find out what works well, and where there is room for improvement. For that you need your client’s feedback. While the case is ongoing, you can ask for direct feedback, and at the end of the case, you can ask for a review and/or testimonial.
  8. How to Measure ROI. Lastly, with the feedback of your clients, you can measure your return on investment. You need to establish some metrics for that. You can start by asking your client for relevant feedback for each stage of the client journey, and evaluate whether, and if so what, needs to be improved. “To measure the ROI of your client experience, you have to decide what you’re going to measure on the business side of things, what you’re going to measure on the client experience side, and how to correlate those two things.”

The articles listed below also give the following tips that will improve your clients’ experience:

  • Respond faster to potential clients. Research has shown that law firms easily take up to three days to get back to a potential client, if they respond at all, where that client expects an immediate response.
  • We already mentioned reputation management, but make sure to also pay specific attention to regional reputation management, as your referrals are most likely to come from other regional clients. Get involved in your community to build relationships with potential clients.
  • Demonstrate your value. Take extra care to explain how your services will save your client money and/or time.
  • Show a commitment to help. Ask your client what their greatest concern is and show your commitment to helping with that.
  • Reach out with unprompted communication: it shows involvement, and people appreciate that.
  • Offer a breadth of service: clients are looking for lawyers who can handle their needs, and not necessarily just your expertise. Be ready to help anyone who comes through your door, even if it means referring them to another lawyer.
  • Adapt to your clients’ future needs.

In short, to become more client-centred, your law firm needs to focus on embracing your clients and providing them with a positive client experience. This not only helps improve the life of your clients but typically also leads to an increase in revenue growth.




Understanding legal consumers

A recent survey in the UK found that 7 out of 10 legal consumers would prefer to interact with a robot lawyer or law bot rather than deal with a “real” lawyer. To put matters into perspective: when we are talking, e.g., about contacting customer services only 44% prefer to deal with a chat bot, where 63% don’t mind, and 37% prefer not to interact with chat bots.

The results of a different survey can shed some light as to why people prefer robot lawyers to real lawyers. For starters, consumers are worried about the overall cost, value, and price transparency when contacting a lawyer. Both the actual cost and the final result are often uncertain. 31% of respondents thought that using the legal system costs too much money (even when the benefits justify the cost). 35% believe the end benefits don’t justify the cost, and for 28%, not knowing the final cost in advance is a hurdle.

The survey also revealed that there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to client satisfaction, and that there often is a serious disconnect between what lawyers think their clients want, and what those clients actually want. There also is quite a disparity between how clients actually experience the process from an emotional point of view, and what their lawyers think their clients feel.

Let us have a look at some statistics, compiled from several reports:

  • 59% of respondents say they would consider using the law when faced with a legal problem (which means a whopping 41% would not!), and 57% of respondents have dealt with a life issue that could have been handled legally but wasn’t.
  • Legal consumers move fast: 59% take action within 1 week; 64% expect a response within 24 hours or less. (To put things in perspective, the average delay for a lawyer to respond to a possible new client is approx. 3 working days).
  • When it comes to legal services, consumers want local solutions: 50% won’t travel more than 28 miles / 45 km for an attorney, while 35% won’t even travel 20 miles / 32 km.
  • More than 2 out of 3 legal consumers use the phone to contact a lawyer: 38% use mobile phones, 31% use a landline.
  • Depending on the survey, between 58% and 65% of legal consumers end up contacting a legal professional.
  • They don’t shop around: 58% only contact one attorney; 21% contacts two; another 21% contacts three.
  • In the end 85% of consumers who contacted lawyers ended up hiring one. At the same time, 58% sought a consult with a lawyer they didn’t hire, and 68% communicated with a lawyer they did not hire. (At first glance this may appear contradictory, but can be explained by the fact that 42 percent of consumers contact more than one lawyer. If, e.g., I talk to three and hire one, then I did not hire 66% of the lawyers I contacted).

What factors do legal consumers take into consideration when choosing a lawyer? Stephen Fairly makes a distinction between concrete and subjective factors. The concrete factors include:

  • Expertise is important for 45%,
  • Cost for 33%,
  • Location for 31%,
  • Speed for 26%,
  • Specialization for 23%,
  • Years of Service for 23%.

The subjective factors are:

  • Recommendations: 40%
  • Reputation: 29%
  • Sense of Trust: 29%
  • Apparent Honesty: 24%
  • Sense of Empathy: 22%

The disparity between what legal consumers want and what lawyers think they want is greatest for three items: when the clients want to meet their lawyer in person, when they want to speak to their lawyer on the phone, and when it comes to balancing service with cost.

Meeting in person: Clients want to meet with lawyers in person when they want to learn about the legal aspects of a case (55%), when they want to tell their lawyer the details of their case (70%), and when they are signing, viewing, sharing, or delivering documents (64%). These expectations are clearly not met. Only 2% of lawyers expect to discuss the legal aspects of a case in person. Only 3% of lawyers expect their clients to tell them the facts in person. Things are slightly better when it comes to handling documents, where 43% of recognize that their clients want to handle documents in person.

Speaking on the phone: for lawyers, it typically doesn’t matter how they are contacted, as long as they are contacted, and speaking to their clients on the phone is rarely a priority. Legal consumers on the other hand, expect to speak to their lawyers over the phone to make an appointment (59%), to get quick replies to a question (46%), or to get an update on their case (37%).

Balancing service with cost: lawyers are perceived as expensive. Legal consumer are only willing to pay if they receive a certain level of service in return. This includes meeting in person or talking over the phone, which often is the most time intensive (and if billed by the hour most expensive) option. Clients also want lawyers to be available outside of their office (68%) and outside of business hours (59%).

In a series of articles in The National Law Review, Liz Wendling compiled a list of 10 insights to better meet the expectations of clients.

  1. Skip the superficial small talk.
  2. Connect and relate to the client.
  3. Don’t treat clients like they are clueless about their legal options.
  4. Help clients see why you are different than your competitors.
  5. Clients have a name; please use it.
  6. Show clients the value in your services, and they will care less about your fees.
  7. Clients will tune out if you talk about yourself first.
  8. Don’t make the money conversation uncomfortable.
  9. If want a client’s business, ask for their business.
  10. Reinforce their wise decision to retain you.

In conclusion, the surveys reveal that the demands and expectations of legal consumers are often not met, and that lawyers need to address these issues, for which creative solutions will have to found. In many cases, technology can be of assistance. Client portals, remote access and task automation can help lawyers be more available without sacrificing attention that could be focused elsewhere.