A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

Your clients’ experience is the key to growth in the new financial year

Monday, June 18, 2018

By Carl White; Director, CXInLaw

Is your law firm turning more of the right enquiries into profitable work and what new business levels should you expect from your investment in marketing, technology and practice management? How does your firm’s customer experience stand apart from competitors?

Your team is highly skilled and your firm is recognised as expert. Yet for many firms, the number of new matters being opened is underwhelming despite high volumes of new enquiries.

And while clients are your best referrers, clients now have more platforms and forums to praise or criticise your firm. What are your clients feeling and saying about your service from the outset of their relationship with your firm?

If these are discussion points raised in your firm, then it’s time to examine your firm’s client experience from first contact through to end of matter. Does this journey reflect your service promise and more importantly the new service norms of an increasingly client-centric marketplace?

The new battleground

As PWC’s latest CEO report states “No longer are customer expectations just set by the organisation they are dealing with. In today’s ‘Experience Economy’ the bar is set by the Amazon experience, the Facebook experience, the hotel experience. To remain relevant for customers, the bar has risen.

The ability to understand and deliver value to your customers – at speed – is the new battleground.

Today, new buyers of services ‘drop out’ of the buying decision at difficult ‘ouch’ moments. Thinking of the legal marketplace, the intolerance of underwhelming service (not just of poor service) is more acute given there is no shortage of lawyer or law firms.

CXINLAW’s 2018 Client Experience (“CX”) Benchmark report, First Impressions Convert, found that only 1 in 10 prospects would instruct based on their first impressions. The research highlighted where in the client journey you ‘win over’ prospects and where they ‘drop out’ highlighting that there are some immediate opportunities to improve your firm’s CX journey.

Yet investing in client experience does not mean ‘adding’ CX to everyday activities. Your investment need to be a whole hearted embrace embedded into the culture of your firm. This will not only grow your business volumes to achieve a greater return on marketing spend but also create more streamlined processes, workflows and client interactions so that activities with clients are easier, more productive and rewarding.


Six quick wins

Here are six quick wins to immediately improve your firm’s client experience and most can be applied across the entire client journey:

1.  Web enquiries – respond within 24 hours and set expectations for weekend enquiries.

2.  Initial incoming call – should be smooth, timely and well informed. The caller (your prospective client) should be provided with clear information about who they are being put through to and why. Conversely, make sure information gained from the caller is passed on fully.

3.  Call transfers – start by providing your full name, your role in the firm and in this call particularly if the caller is put through to an intermediary, rather than an advisor/lawyer. The research found that 58% of enquiries were handled by intermediaries and contact was typically dreadful enough to severely impact the impression made upon clients.

4.  Take control of the call or meeting. Best practice involves four stages and results in more information being gained in less time whilst building rapport:

  • Open and Welcome;
  • Find Out More;
  • Show How – communicate value; and
  • Gain Commitment and Close.

5.  Position the cost discussion confidently based on the value you can provide. This will deliver quality clients who will value and pay for your services - on time!

6.  Follow up – will make you stand out especially with a prospect. Firms omitting to undertake follow up or agreed ‘next steps’ fail to capitalise on otherwise solid discussions.

And then move to a differentiated competitive position….

Applying these small changes will start the transformation process. However, achieving a culture of client experience excellence (CXE) requires a holistic strategy, a fully energised team and an investment in:

  • Objective insights - change should always be based on objective insights of your firm’s current client experience.  These insights will be the catalyst to develop a CXE strategy that is owned and implemented by your entire team and builds on the firm’s proud history and expertise.
  • Service skills training - clients are making buying decisions based on the ease, emotion and effectiveness of their interactions with your team at a time of heightened anxiety levels. Therefore, everyone in the firm needs to demonstrate and reinforce your firm’s service promise.

A well-executed CXE training program addresses both the need to grow new business as well as provide a stimulating and fun firm to work in - training programs should consider new enquiry and matter workflows, templates, documented service standards and new staff induction – rather than a one-off session.

If your firm is ready to drive more conversions, more business and more profits, it’s time to seriously consider your clients’ customer experience and initiate or build on it.

About our Guest Blogger

Passionate about the clients' experience of professional services, Carl White entered the legal sector with Ashurst in 2002. He co-authored the highly-regarded ‘Customer Experience in Law' report in 2012 in the UK and led the market-leading Australian research in 2015 and 2018 that examines the Client Experience Advantage for law firms, in partnership with ALPMA.

As the founding director of CXINLAW Carl has a background in theatre practice, retail operations and law with expertise in employee engagement, L&D and "CX". Carl was invited to become a faculty tutor at the Queensland Law Society and has presented to Australia's law societies, ALPMA, LIV and Centre for Legal Innovation. CXINLAW has been recognised for introducing the concept and practice of Client Experience in law both in the UK and Australasia. 

W:  www.cxinlaw.com   |   Carl White LinkedIn   |   E:  carl.white@cxinlaw.com

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