Jessica Everett on management of clients’ needs and expectations if you lose
There are always times when a case or matter does not come to the conclusion your client hoped for - and perhaps no more so than for those specialising in criminal or family law. A lawyer sometimes cannot meet client expectations and has to deliver this bad news. So how do you still ensure they feel they had a positive experience?
1. Do you understand your client’s journey?
Expectations are rising – and the pandemic has changed the way clients want to interact with their legal providers. From remote hearings to Microsoft Teams meetings, digital technology has an increased role. But how many firms have looked at the impact of this on the client journey?
Not every client journey will be the same. Taking time to plot out your client touchpoints and score each element will give a good overview of where there is room for improvement.
Recent research from the Insight6 Professional Services Client Journey Report 2021 shows firms who do not focus on client experience in this way are behind the curve. They tend to have a negative net promoter score (NPS) – and could be losing out on important word of mouth referrals.
2. Watch out for the weakest links
Memories are shaped by that automatic part of our brain which notices things co-occurring and ties them together. This is the result of repetition and reinforcement. When you are building a brand, you want to make a brand promise and repeat it over and over again. The same applies with client experience. You are only as good as your weakest link. Understanding the whole journey means you can highlight where it is broken.
Ensuring everything – from initial enquiries and onboarding, to court timetables and managing costs – reflects the firm’s values and adds to the client’s journey means there are more likely to be approbative memories of the business.
3. The importance of feedback
From my experience, the best way to help maintain a positive client experience is to continually listen to feedback to understand their sentiments. You can use this information to make incremental changes. This can be challenging for criminal and care lawyers: historically, feedback surveys are sent at the end of a matter – and if the result is not what your client had hoped, this will impact their response. However, if you look carefully at the journey for this type of client, there may be a better time to ask for feedback – for example, after the initial appointment.
Feedback doesn’t need to be an onerous task – and there are plenty of online platforms available. The SRA is encouraging firms to collate this feedback to help with transparency and development. It also helps to highlight potential problems before they become complaints, giving firms opportunities to save the client relationship.
4. What is their last memory of the firm?
Another element to consider is the last memory a customer has of you and your firm. Their case may not go the way they want, but does that have to be their overarching memory? Author and activist Maya Angelou puts this succinctly: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
When your client’s emotions are highest, how are you interacting with them? The experience you need to deliver is building trust and supporting them. It can be as simple as having tissues and face-to-face interactions at the times you know are going to be emotionally tough for them. If you know they are struggling, it could be teaming them up with counselling or charities, so they feel supported. The final bill or court decision doesn’t have to be the last interaction. Think outside the box!
In conclusion, by making sure your firm is looking carefully at your client journey and listening to feedback, you will ensure that you are always adapting and evolving. Become trusted advisers. Trusted advisers will always manage the client’s expectations – and even if the matter does not go the way the client wants, the efforts of the lawyer will be appreciated - and they will be more likely to recommend you to their peers.
Jessica Everett is client experience team leader at The Family Law Company: thefamilylawco.co.ukTags:
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