How satisfied are your clients with your services? Do you know? An important metric to measure client satisfaction is the NPS, i.e. the net promoter score. What is it? Well, you surely have encountered the mini surveys before, where they ask you to give a score from 0 to 10 on how likely you are to recommend the services or product you are using. Scores from 0 to 6 are not considered good, scores of 7 and 8 are all right, and scores 9 and 10 are what you are aiming for.
Now, most law firms do not achieve these high scores when it comes to client satisfaction. In a previous article, we already pointed out that there is a chasm between what lawyers think their clients want, and what those clients actually want. This disparity is greatest for three items: when the clients want to meet their lawyer in person, when they want to speak to their lawyer on the phone, and when it comes to balancing service with cost.
Now that the Coronavirus is forcing you to rethink the way your law firm works, why not take this as an opportunity to also make your law firm more client-centred? Not only will it give you a competitive advantage, legal consumers are also increasingly demanding it. And if they are satisfied with their experience, they are more likely to recommend you. After all, referrals still are the way most legal consumers find their lawyers. You can only benefit from making your law firm more client-centred.
So, how does one make one’s law firm more client-centred? The Lawyerist website recently published a ‘Complete Guide to Law Firm Client Experience’, and that is an excellent place to start. It explains how building a client-centred law firm requires paying attention to your client’s journey, as well as to your client’s experience. Lawyerist breaks the process down in 8 items. Here is a summary.
- The difference between client experience and client service: Your client’s experience is the sum of all his or her interactions with your law firm, from your website to the last consultation. It affects and is experienced by all your clients and determines how they feel towards you and your firm. Client Experience needs to be proactive and intuitive. Client Service on the other hand, is the subjective experience for each client when they need to interact with anyone in your firm, at any given moment when they encounter some issue or problem that needs to be resolved. Client Service is problem oriented and is reactionary by nature.
- Understanding your clients: to better understand your clients, their needs, desires, and expectations, it is useful to create client personas. These are descriptions of your ideal client. These profiles can be as specific as you want them to be, but should at least determine what your ideal client’s wants, needs, and expectations would be. Knowing this can also help you understand how they might be feeling when they come to you for help. It will allow you to better empathize with your client, and to you create a more personalized and attentive client experience for them, which is something all consumers of services always appreciate.
- Create a clear Law Firm Client Experience Journey: What is a client journey, or client experience journey? It is the entire process your client as a legal consumer with a legal issue that needs to be resolved goes through, when trying to resolve that issue through the services that your law firm offers. How do you want them to feel when they interact with your firm? How can you stay in control of the relationship and manage your clients’ expectations? Map your client’s journey, i.e. identify the different stages your client will go through: each stage should 1) represent a major milestone in the overall goal for your client during their time with your firm, and 2) have clear objectives and goals to meet. At every step, you need to communicate what you are doing with your clients to keep them in the loop. It is a good approach to visualise your clients’ journey. The article by Yolanda Cartusciello on client journey mapping (listed below) provides many useful insights. Cartusciello also refers to research that shows that companies that have transformed themselves to focus on the client journey across the organization have enjoyed a 20% improvement in client satisfaction, a 15-20% decrease in cost of serving their clients, a 20-30% increase in employee engagement, and, perhaps most convincingly, a 10-15% increase in revenue growth.
- Your Law Firm Client Experience begins online. In previous articles, we pointed out that most legal consumers check out the lawyers they consider hiring online first, before contacting them. This means their first impression of you is what comes up when they perform an online search on your name. The results may include your website, your reviews, and your social media profiles. You have to pay sufficient attention to all of them. We have previously published an article on online reputation management that addressed this.
- Create a connection with your clients. A lawyer-client relationship is built on trust. Building that trust already starts when your client finds you online. Let your personality shine on your website and social media profiles! Then, as soon as you are contacted, make it a top priority to give your client personalized attention. When you meet with your client, “ask them questions, be patient, and listen to what they have to say. Treat them with respect, and don’t be afraid to engage with them emotionally or to talk about yourself to relate to their situation. When you truly care about your clients, you’ll naturally want to do your best to help them out. People will feel this sincerity and respond in kind.” When talking about client experience and client journey, we already mentioned the importance of keeping your clients in the loop and communicating with them regularly. This, too, helps build trust and a connection with your clients. If your clients feel they do not know what the status of their case is, they will get frustrated and dissatisfied. Also, remember to always communicate securely with your clients, e.g., through your client portal.
- Getting everyone on your team onboard. All your clients’ interactions with your law firm contribute to how they experience their journeys with your firm. It should therefore be obvious that all this planning for your client experience only works if everyone at your firm is onboard and shares that common purpose of focusing on the client’s experience. One bad experience with anybody in your firm will lead to client dissatisfaction. Everybody should know how the client experience journey goes, what is expected of them, and what their responsibilities are. To this end, you can develop workflows, documents policies and procedures. It helps if everybody involved in a case can access previous communications, which most law firm management software typically allows.
- Capture feedback in real time. It is all good and well to decide to put the client’s experience central, but the ultimate test remains how the client does experience his or her journey with your firm. You need to find out what works well, and where there is room for improvement. For that you need your client’s feedback. While the case is ongoing, you can ask for direct feedback, and at the end of the case, you can ask for a review and/or testimonial.
- How to Measure ROI. Lastly, with the feedback of your clients, you can measure your return on investment. You need to establish some metrics for that. You can start by asking your client for relevant feedback for each stage of the client journey, and evaluate whether, and if so what, needs to be improved. “To measure the ROI of your client experience, you have to decide what you’re going to measure on the business side of things, what you’re going to measure on the client experience side, and how to correlate those two things.”
The articles listed below also give the following tips that will improve your clients’ experience:
- Respond faster to potential clients. Research has shown that law firms easily take up to three days to get back to a potential client, if they respond at all, where that client expects an immediate response.
- We already mentioned reputation management, but make sure to also pay specific attention to regional reputation management, as your referrals are most likely to come from other regional clients. Get involved in your community to build relationships with potential clients.
- Demonstrate your value. Take extra care to explain how your services will save your client money and/or time.
- Show a commitment to help. Ask your client what their greatest concern is and show your commitment to helping with that.
- Reach out with unprompted communication: it shows involvement, and people appreciate that.
- Offer a breadth of service: clients are looking for lawyers who can handle their needs, and not necessarily just your expertise. Be ready to help anyone who comes through your door, even if it means referring them to another lawyer.
- Adapt to your clients’ future needs.
In short, to become more client-centred, your law firm needs to focus on embracing your clients and providing them with a positive client experience. This not only helps improve the life of your clients but typically also leads to an increase in revenue growth.