In Legal Futures’ recent survey, only three in ten people who have a legal issue seek advice. Of those, just over half go to a lawyer.
The most common reason cited by 8,192 people was an assumption that legal services would be too expensive.
While this survey was from the UK, there is no reason to believe it is not reflected here in Australia. Therefore, the need to not only convert more incoming inquiries, but to also create word-of-mouth advocates, is as important as ever.
Law firms are investing in more sophisticated ways to generate new enquiries using social media and digital platforms. Yet, in a recent study, CXINLAW (Client Experience Excellence in Law) found that there is a lack of focus on how prospective clients are treated at initial touch points.
In fact, 78% of law firms failed the ‘first impression test’ with only one in five firms gaining an instruction or recommendation.
Investing in client experience
At a time of increasing competition, where differentiators are hard to identify and leverage, client experience is the most overlooked and cost-effective approach to meeting your firm’s growth targets.
In 2016, CXINLAW clients have seen month on month gains in new matters between 20% to 135% with boosts to revenue of between 20% to 35% from 2015 levels.
A good client experience ensures every interaction is building rapport and helping you gain an understanding of your client’s needs. Get it wrong and the result is the unnecessary loss of new opportunities.
Successful firms treat new enquiries as the start of the relationship and an opportunity to ‘be there’ for a client who has made the time to call them.
As one CXINLAW client recently said: “what I learnt in a short space of time was that clients ‘experience’ the firm well before they get to speak to a lawyer and that experience can be a ‘make’ or ‘break’ for clients.”
Evaluating your firm’s client experience
While every firm and team member are unique, there are 4 client experience indicators to understand your firm’s impact at that first impression point:
1. Open and Welcome
Are you introducing yourself and your role in a clear manner? This may seem simple, but rushing through your introduction sends a message that the prospect is intruding on your day.
2. Find out more
Whether you are the receptionist, paralegal or partner, finding out more in the context of why prospects are contacting your firm will streamline transfers and ultimately show genuine interest. Start with open, leading questions to build rapport and to avoid sounding like you are reading from a checklist or script.
3. Show how
Take charge of the interaction and outline what happens next. Our analysis has shown prospects are often left with a pause after the lawyer introduces themselves. The prospect is then compelled to start talking to fill the pause.
This is a critical point where your prospect starts to understand why they should work with you and not the last firm they contacted – but this isn’t a hard sell.
Ensure that information on the process and fees involved is transparent, well-positioned and succinct. Avoid the use of legal jargon while communicating the value and advantages of working with you and the firm. This proactive approach is reassuring, demonstrating empathy and care while building confidence and credibility.
4. Close and transfer
It is important to accurately summarise the discussion and the prospect’s key requirements. Also provide them with a final opportunity to ask further questions and reflect on the usefulness of the interaction.
In our experience, many firms often forget to confirm next steps, e.g. contact details, preferred communication method (call, email, meeting etc) and by when.
A firm-wide transformation
While these four indicators assess your firm’s client experience at first impression point, the overall client experience impact is multiplied across:
- Each person a prospect speaks to before they are connected to one of your lawyers; and then
- Each subsequent touchpoint with your clients throughout their matter. There are 60 touchpoints along the client journey. At the end of the matter, will they be a promotor of your firm, passive, or worse, a detractor?
Understanding the weaknesses in your firm’s client experience interactions is the critical starting point. The next steps involve transforming each of your team into champions of client experience excellence.
Differentiating your firm through client experience relies on identifying new skills and processes, and embedding these improvements into your firm’s culture. The key success factor is staff engagement through a disciplined approach, creating focus, improvements and ultimately transforming your firm to stand out from the rest.
To find out more, contact Carl White or join one of our free monthly webinars on Client Experience Excellence.
About Carl White
Passionate about the impact of Client Experience Excellence in professional services, Carl White entered the legal sector with Ashurst (UK and Europe) in 2002. He co-authored the highly-regarded ‘Customer Experience in Law’ report in 2012 and led the market-leading Australian research in 2015 that examines the Client Experience Advantage for law firms, in association with ALPMA.
In 2015 Carl was invited to become a Faculty Member of the Queensland Law Society tutoring client service. He has also taught and presented at Leo Cussen Centre for Law, New South Wales Law Society, LIV, NZLS, the 2015 ALPMA Summit and regional forums.
As a founding director of CXINLAW in the UK and Australasia, Carl has a background in employee engagement, customer experience management, organisational development and training within law and 15 years experience in retail operations.