Wake up to the customer service imperative
Improving online capability, responding to all reviews, and adopting a flexible mindset are just some of the steps firms can take to meet customer expectations, says Qamar Anwar
Just as customers expect to be able to compare and contrast price, service, and guarantees before buying everyday consumer goods, why wouldn’t they also expect the same of legal services?
We now expect to be able
to buy goods, check bank balances, and research financial products any time
of the day or night. But many legal services providers fail to realise that this phenomenon applies to them.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is looking to improve the transparency of both price and service quality
in the legal market so that consumers can more accurately judge what they are buying and from whom they should buy it. But many law firms are running out of time to get to grips
with customer service and it’s critical that they step up to the challenge to ensure their future.
Our latest report, ‘For whom the bell tolls – The customer service imperative’, identifies several beacons of best
practice in the profession
that demonstrate the changes that can be made to create
a customer journey that
Customer behaviour will continue to evolve and the sooner firms accept this, the better, because they will need to respond to the new demands put upon them.
Firms will need to offer a fully automated online capability. Many consumers have come
to expect automation in their dealings with service providers and this extends to legal services.
Even if they value face-to-
face contact at the start of the process, they don’t want to have to keep going into an office or calling if they can avoid it. The fact is that many transactional parts of the lawyer/client relationship can be done
better, quicker, and more cost-effectively by taking the lawyer out of the relationship.
However, if a client wants the human touch, then that’s what you give them.
Comparison websites will be
the norm. Both the CMA and
the Legal Services Consumer Panel are very keen on such websites gaining ground in the legal market.
Many firms view comparison and review websites as the start of a race to the bottom where they will only ever be judged
on price. Equally, they feel that because they offer a much more subjective service as opposed to selling a tangible product, clients will simply mark them down on service for the wrong reasons – an obvious example being that a case fails because of the law, not because of bad advice. We all want positive reviews, but the reality is that
all reviews benefit a business, depending on how you respond to them.
The client manages the customer journey. In the age
of the empowered customer, the interactions your customer has with your business and the choices they make cannot be managed. A complete change of mindset is required, along with a great deal of flexibility.
Big data will drive everything. While you might not be able to manage the customer journey, you can understand it. Big data – loosely defined as high-volume, high-velocity, complex data that usually requires
highly specialised skills and technology to process – has been harnessed to great effect by retailers and its use is spreading across other sectors.
We have embraced it over
the past two years and it has delivered significant marketing improvements. We began with detailed research and persona-building of our claimants to understand the differences between, and unique characteristics of, the types
of people who make a compensation claim. In turn,
we evaluated our website presence, TV campaigns, and digital marketing structure and fundamentally reviewed how and where we go to market.
The lesson here is that you can clearly articulate specialist areas of practice and profile the right people to show how you can help a client. However, appearing in the right place,
at the right time, and with the right product can be the key difference.
Don’t ignore collaboration. Many big brands have made collaboration work – think
Costa Coffee and Waterstones
or Apple Pay and MasterCard. Law firms need to be alive to the possibilities that collaboration can bring. If you don’t, you can be sure someone else will. SJ