Law firms have long held a monopoly when it comes to providing legal services but changes in technology and just as importantly, client expectations, are transforming both the consumption and practice of law. In a report developed by Jordan Furlong, he dives into the millennial effect and how traditional legal practices need to change to accommodate. In the coming years, the client population of legal services will dramatically change. Below are three of the millennial features outlined in the report:
Client expectations are changing and so should the way your law firm deals with clients. Here are six common mistakes law firms are making with their client experience.
When a client pays for a service they are expecting (rightfully so) the same experience across the end to end journey, from sales all the way to post delivery. Every touch point with your client matters and clients value a journey that is consistent. Once a firm wins a piece of work, the effort may drop off slightly which can have a significant impact on the client experience.Apple is a brand that delivers a consistant end to end journey for their customers. Let’s take the iPhone as an example. Apple provides a memorable experience at every point in the journey, from the research phase (clean and slick website) to the communication while waiting for your iPhone (email and SMS delivery updates). A standout moment in the journey (often overlooked) is the suspense encountered when lifting the lid off a new iPhone box. It takes about five seconds to slide off the lid - the excitement, the anticipation, the joy - it all forms part of the consistent experience.
If you never ask for feedback, you are never going to improve. It is common for lawyers not to be open to feedback because they’re afraid of what they might hear. There may have formal sessions set up at the start and end of each project but that does not allow you to improve or address issues with your client until it is too late.
Feedback at the end of the project is useless. Look to set up informal catchups with key stakeholders during a project - clients are also more likely to open up during informal catchups. Just remember - there is one thing worse than never asking for feedback...failing to address feedback you receive.
Your clients will be facing many challenges and sometimes they will be outside of your realm of expertise. Rather than just saying you cannot help, look to add value by connecting them with someone/organisation that can help. Lawyers need to aim to be seen more as a trusted advisor rather than just a service provider. For instance, Clifford Chance has set up a Tech Academy to provide their lawyers with the skills to become more of a trusted advisor to their clients.
Zappos is a company that may seem to take this concept too far - but it works for them! Zappos direct you to a competitor website when they are out of stock of a product you are looking for! Why? Customers are considered the most valuable asset at Zappos and they are focusing on lifetime customers rather than once-off customers.
The world of your client is bigger than the project you are working on. Clients are after more than just the traditional lawyer-client relationship, they are after a partner that takes a proactive approach and builds a deeper understanding of their company and industry.
What is an easy way to stay on top of news about your clients? Set up Google Alerts on your clients so that you can be proactive during conversations. It also gives you a reason to reach out when significant things are mentioned in the news. It is much better being on the front foot than needing your client to tell you information that is readily available in the news.
Law firms are often so focused on delivery that they lose touch of the partnership with the client.
It is important to continuously look the strengthen the partnership and add ongoing value. This could take many different forms and something that has proven successful is running collaborative workshops with your clients on topics such as Design Thinking. These sessions demonstrate to the client that the law firm is invested in the relationship.
Pinsent Masons wanted to introduce a Design Thinking mindset to problem-solving in the context of legal services and in collaboration with one of their main clients. They engaged Collective Campus to upskill lawyers across Pinsent Masons and their client in Design Thinking, including the tools required to apply it in their day to day roles. This allowed the group to work on a common challenge and strengthen the bonds that were already in place.
Meeting expectations used to be a sign of success, but in this day and age clients want so much more. Law firms need to not only meet expectations but also provide unexpected moments for clients. As humans, we love to share unexpected experiences with other people - when your experience is on par with expectations it does not garner the same excitement and is rarely discussed or brought up in general conversation.
Zappos is a company that puts a strong focus on WOW experiences. They provide their repeat customers with surprise shipping upgrades - an order placed before midnight will be at your doorstep the next morning! Meeting expectations does not cut the mustard anymore. Customers that are impressed by a touch point with your business will tell other people. Look at your client journey and identify moments where you can do the unexpected. I guarantee you that your clients will remember these moments.
Law firms that spend the time to better understand their clients and have a process to implement the learnings will undoubtedly stay ahead of their competition. The law firms that recognise the importance of enhancing the client experience the soonest, and actually react accordingly, will be the in the best position to not only strengthen partnerships with current clients but attract new clients moving forward.
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