Paul Matthews is a Customer Experience Director at insight6, a specialist company that transforms businesses by creating and implementing a six-step customer experience strategy with clients.
insight6 specialises in working across lots of business sectors but especially with the legal sector to improve client experiences. Through research and experience insight6 has a deep understanding of how to create an impact on legal firms and transform the service that lawyers deliver, which inevitably leads to an increase in sales through increased client retention, new clients, greater client satisfaction and recommendations.
Any customer, including a prospective law firm client, has expectations about the service they will receive when they contact a business.
How they are treated in these early interactions will determine whether they choose your law firm or go elsewhere.
From a law firm’s perspective, meeting clients’ expectations and maximising the opportunity from each enquiry can be broken down into the following 3 core areas:
- Customer service;
- Sales skills.
These are the core areas that law firms need to focus on to ensure they are meeting, and ideally exceeding, their clients’ expectations.
For the 4th year running at insight6 we have just completed our Legal Client Journey with over 100 law firms across the UK.
Our team of researchers made at least one phone, web and walk in enquiry to each of the firms using a number of scenario questions that tested a number of different departments. Each enquiry was then used to measure how law firms handle new enquiries against the KPIs.
Our key findings across all law firms included in the research show the following results:
What does this tell us?
In short, it tells us that law firms are very good at presentation, okay at customer service but quite poor at sales.
But what do each of these different categories encompass?
Customer service I think is reasonably well understood as a phrase, but for clarity, Wikipedia defines it as: “Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.”
In our research, customer service was measured using a number of specific criteria such as answering the phone within 3 rings, providing the name of the business, providing sufficient information, transferring the client to an expert and overall treatment.
Whilst an overall score of 75% is ‘okay’, it clearly leaves room for improvement.
Key areas of note include:
- Only 68% of phone calls were answered within 3 rings.
- Only 34% of calls were answered with the name of the handler.
- Out-of-hours call handling is poor. Many callers NEVER received a call back (57%) and for those who did, often this was many days later.
- Very few people felt law firms attempted to add value or go further for them (less than 30%).
- Too often, when putting a call through to an expert, it took too many attempts to put the
Presentation is a measure of how the law firm presents itself through its website, e.g. easy to view on a mobile; through its office presentation, e.g. signage, cleanliness of offices; and through its people, e.g. well presented.
Not surprisingly, this is an area where law firms scored well overall (93% overall).
Key scoring areas were:
- Everyone found it easy to view the website on a mobile phone
- All members of the team were well presented
- Only 8% of offices were unclean and were not easy to access
Sales skills was the area of most concern and is the area that will be affecting a law firm’s bottom line the most. Good sales skills are required to help the prospective client AND to improve conversion. The full client journey report shows that conversion at the initial point of enquiry is costing a typical £10m turnover law firm in excess of £100,000 in lost income each year. This is clearly an area that law firms cannot afford to ignore.
Key areas of concern include:
- Failure to follow up initial enquiries within 5 days – only 13%.
- In only two-thirds of cases are law firms asking prospective clients if they want to proceed (65%).
- Contact details are not being taken in 32% of cases. That’s almost 1 in 3 enquiries that you cannot follow up with.
- The benefits of the firm, e.g. services, value etc, were not explained to enquirers in 72% of cases.
Clearly, asking for the contact details of a caller or a person who walks into your office should be standard practice. This is costing law firms and creates the wrong impression to the caller who will most likely not bother to call back (and yes, law firms are putting the onus on callers to call back too often).
Alongside this, it’s really important that not only are you capturing contact details but that you are also asking people the right questions to properly understand their needs. This is important on two levels: firstly for you to be able to help them and secondly to provide them with the reassurance that you can help because you are asking about their personal needs. This instils confidence which, in turn, will make them more inclined to appoint you rather than another law firm.
These are all key skills and processes that should be in place within law firms. The good news is these are things that can be, on the whole, easily fixed.
How do law firms compare to other sectors and service providers?
It’s important that law firms look outside the legal sector to understand how they perform and measure themselves against recognised customer service leaders such as Amazon and Apple. These businesses may provide very different services to those offered by a law firm but these are the businesses that people are dealing with on a regular basis and are the businesses that are ‘setting the bar’ when it comes to service and, importantly, expectations.
insight6 has measured law firms using a measure called Net Promoter Score (NPS). This enables us to compare law firms against other businesses in a consistent and quantifiable way.
Download the full report using the link at the bottom of this article to read about NPS and how it is calculated.
The bad news is that law firms are lagging behind, but it isn’t rocket science to fix things; you simply need to take time to focus on client experience. The good news is that this will help your law firm generate more income, so it’s a worthwhile investment!
Clearly there are many good examples of good practice taking place in law firms. However, there are also too many areas that need to be improved.
In the full Client Journey report we examine the research findings and conclusions in more detail. Head to www.insight6.com/legal-journey-2019/ to download your copy.
Customer Experience Director at Insight6