Writing a new language of love is the route to happy clients
Helen Hamilton-Shaw takes a closer look at the client experience and how the four Es are a better fit in today’s marketplace
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a foolproof guide to focus your marketing strategy and client engagement? A neat checklist to determine how things are going, where the organisation needs to pull its socks up, with a benchmark to measure future activity. Except the rules are constantly changing and what works today may no longer work tomorrow. The modern marketplace is a more volatile and dynamic environment than we have ever seen
Where once marketeers could confidently execute their strategy through the pursuit of the four Ps – product, price, promotion and placement – now we need a more customer-conscious, emotionally-driven approach. Today’s marketeers are focused on the four Es of experience, exchange, everyplace and evangelism. This is about being people-centric and delivering an overall brand experience. A recognition that businesses sell to real people not statistics or clustered demographics.
How does this play out at the level of an individual law firm?
Well, first let’s define ‘experience.’ We need to think about the full experience, the whole client journey, who or what influences their decision, and where or when a purchase decision is made, so we know where to direct our marketing energies.
We see measurable results in adopting this sort of client-centric approach among the member firms in our collaborative network. Each firm must achieve and hold our ISO standard, which includes a benchmark for customer experience, known as the LawNet excellence mark. The standard requires firms to take part in external monitoring of their client journey, which helps our members see where they may need to make changes. We have been tracking performance for the past ten years and the data shows how responsive action can enhance the client experience.
This links to the second E, exchange, and the shift from a solely transactional relationship to one where the client derives value from the whole experience (while, of course, still seeking value for money). It also reflects the shift required in thinking and approach by businesses, towards creating a personally-focused approach.
Turning now to everyplace. Recognising we have a fast-moving, individualistic environment reminds us that clients and potential clients want to interact in their preferred space (whether that be virtual or physical geography) and at a time of their choosing. An example of responding to such preferences has seen firms adopting TikTok and other routes outside traditional law firm marketing and providing services ‘out of hours.’
The drive for emotion in the relationship is reflected in the idea of evangelism, the fourth E. Employees are fundamental in this, as they can be powerful advocates. At a recent member leadership forum, we heard many managing partners and CEOs endorse the value of encouraging staff to talk about their experiences at the firm. This can bring culture alive and show how the firm supports clients in wider terms, rather than just the transactional aspect.
We see that approach in the storytelling of big brands. For example, John Lewis doesn’t advertise its products in its renowned Christmas advertising, it sells an emotion, and banks talk about the life changes involved in buying a house, not the mortgage rate. For a law firm there is a direct parallel, whether by emphasising the peace of mind of having completed financial planning or will making, or the feelgood of putting a key in the door of your new home. Telling clients how they will benefit in emotional terms is the route to engagement. And such storytelling can equally be applied to business clients, each of whom is an individual person, with feelings, fears and aspirations.
Clients themselves can be powerful advocates of course. We see our members proactively using online reviews for clients to share public feedback, creating a quick-win external advocacy tool, and there are opportunities to invite and promote feedback from clients across all other communication channels too.
Keeping up with trends is tough, but looking at how we engage and satisfy our clients is not a passing fad. To keep pace with today’s consumer we need a route map suited to the geography.
Helen Hamilton-Shaw is a member engagement and strategy director at LawNet