CX – Customer Experience in the Legal Sector

So, you’ve won the case and got a happy client. But what next? Have you thought about how you can continue your relationship with the client?

Clare Fanner, founder of Law Firm Marketing Club, shares new research on clients’ expectations and what law firms can do to build a stronger relationship with them.

Our latest research indicates that 90% of clients have positive emotions at the end of their legal matter (regardless of sector), but 44% have not heard from their law firm since the matter was completed.

If you create a customer experience that produces a happy and satisfied client, then why aren’t more law firms building on this to drive repeat business? On completion of a divorce or family issue, for example, why couldn’t you sell your client your other services – legal help with their conveyancing, wills or business needs?

However, what exactly constitutes a happy experience – and how can we ensure that we create the best overall satisfaction for our client so that they return to us again and again? The overarching view is that many law firms don’t really consider their clients as well as they should, and definitely aren’t keeping pace with the adoption of technology / customer service that other organisations serving their customer base have. McKinsey Global Institute conducted research which concluded that data-driven organisations, for example, are 23 times more likely to outperform their competitors in customer acquisition, 6.5 times as likely to retain the acquired customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable.

And, if we take a brief look outside of the legal sector, there are many lessons lawyers can learn. Amazon, for example, is famous for its customer care and ranked as the most trusted online shopping site in America. The online retailer’s sales rose by 31% last year thanks to its world class customer relationship management strategy. Its strong customer focus and intelligent use of CRM software capturing customer data at the point of purchase revealing details of the customer ‘experience’ is integral to Amazon’s success. Their CRM strategy is in fact disarmingly simple: make it easy to use your online site, ensure your customers get their money’s worth, give them reasons to return, and provide the highest-quality and most efficient customer service you can.

If you create a customer experience that produces a happy and satisfied client, then why aren’t more law firms building on this to drive repeat business?

But how good are we really at listening to our clients and giving them what they want, so that they get that fantastic all-round customer experience that drives them to return?

In our research we asked over 600 people from across the UK with different backgrounds and experiences of dealing with law firms to identify what they really want, need and expect from a law firm. Some of the findings were particularly enlightening.

Using emotions to build trust

What predominantly transpired is the importance of using emotional intelligence to communicate and bond with your client, not something that law firms are always renowned for. Understanding how a client ‘feels’ is a crucial part of understanding what clients want, need and expect and is the key to law firms delivering for clients. We know that most legal services are purchased when people are in a heightened emotional state. Interestingly, 74% of clients have ‘negative’ emotions at the start of a legal matter (angry, anxious, helpless, nervous, scared, stressed, vulnerable), whilst – as already outlined earlier – 90% of clients have positive emotions at the end of their matter (happy, satisfied, thankful, relieved, delighted).

But are law firms paying enough attention to how clients feel at the outset of a matter and what they can do to ‘improve’ this for the client? Understanding the emotions that clients have, what is important to them and what they need should be reflected in the messaging, language and marketing communications that law firms are producing. Doing this will give those law firms a big advantage over their competition.

Understanding how a client ‘feels’ is a crucial part of understanding what clients want, need and expect and is the key to law firms delivering for clients.

And take note of this statistic: law firms with a strong EQ (as opposed to IQ) can charge 8% more per hour than their peers.

Service delivery

The most important things clients need from their lawyer and law firm are, ranked in order: Understanding of issues; Price; and Technical ability. There are also opportunities for law firms when it comes to service delivery. Clients want the direct contact details of their lawyer, for instance. Too many law firms and lawyers simply don’t provide this, and yet this is important to 84% of clients. In addition, 79% expect at least weekly updates on their matter and 69% expect a same-day response to their queries.

Respect the age differences

Law practices should also recognise the clear differences in expectations in some areas for different age groups. The younger generation (under 44 years old) want more ‘out of hours’ access to lawyers (e.g. in the evenings and at weekends) and found online / live chat appealing. Those over the age of 60, on the other hand, didn’t deem online chat particularly important and were more interested in meeting at a place of their choice (e.g. at their home),

Although the differences in expectations by work type and age are predictable, ignore them at your peril. The expectations of your clients are changing. There is a marked difference in expectations for things such as personal contact versus use of technology. You need to grow and develop your services and ensure you continue to meet the needs of clients through the ages.

Post-service communication

Keeping in touch with clients is a topic very dear to most marketers’ hearts. And yet law firms generally aren’t very good at this – a combination of time, data, tools (e.g. having the right software) and know-how is required. When it comes to communicating with clients, law firms are missing a trick with only 26% of clients being contacted when a key date is approaching e.g. a lease renewal, contract clause or a re-mortgage date. Not only that, but – as mentioned earlier – 44% of clients have not heard from their law firms since the conclusion of their matter. And, only 17% of clients have heard from their law firm with information to help them understand how market factors such as COVID-19 and Brexit might affect them.

To conclude, the good news is that there are some massive opportunities here for law firms. It is no longer good enough to ignore what clients expect in terms of support, service and communication. There are no excuses, even with increased flexible and remote working, you must put your clients’ needs at the forefront. If you don’t, others will, and you will lose out. Just don’t let another one bite the dust.

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