How law firms can improve client experiences [plus 5 ways to build trust with legal practice customers]

Legal services consultancy Altman Weil pointed out in a recent survey that law firms are not immune to the same quest for customer knowledge that all businesses must address. Namely, are firms delivering what customers actually want?

What’s covered in this article?

  • How clients judge a law firm’s client experience
  • Why do clients leave law firms?
  • 5 ways to build trust between law firms and clients

Indeed, are they even asking customers want they want in the first place? As Altman Weil suggests, clients’ usual expectations are for an affordable, expert and professional service, with good communication, clear processes, and results.

Of course, the truth is that these features of law firm client relationship management are not actual differentiators. They are the cost of entry. Firms need to dig deeper.

How clients judge a law firm’s client experience

That starts with seeking a better understanding of clients’ thinking. More than 50 percent of the clients who conducted performance reviews of firms used the following seven criteria, according to survey data in CLOC’s 2019 State of the Industry Report:

  • Understanding and aligning with their business
  • Responsiveness and timeliness
  • Results and outcomes
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Quality of work
  • Service delivery
  • Diversity and inclusion

Clients also evaluated firms on criteria such as transparency and information sharing, common values, use of IT, and innovation and creativity.

Try Provy for free to automate your client communication processes and case management.

Why do clients leave law firms?

But yet again, it is important that firms dig deeper, not only to understand how clients assess their performance but to grasp why clients leave.

The reasons for a client departure can be deeply complex and case-specific, with traditional drivers ranging from the departure of a partner or a chief legal officer with a key relationship, through right-sizing, to downright economics.

Altman Weil’s 2017 Chief Legal Officer Survey offers more insight into the client departure rationale. The bad news is that many of the key reasons are caused by firms. The good news is they are squarely in a firm’s circle of influence to resolve. Here they are:

  1. Poor legal customer service
  2. A partner leaving the firm
  3. Lower fees elsewhere
  4. The firm’s resourcing
  5. Law firm expertise
  6. Matter efficiency
  7. ‘Fee shock’
  8. Conflicts
  9. Geography

5 ways to build trust between law firms and clients

What steps can firms take to head off these concerns before they become terminal?

As a lawyer, you’re more likely than other professionals to be skeptical of customer service tropes, such as the customer is always right’ or the ‘the customer is king’. Put that down to the law’s longstanding reliance on conflict, paired with its preference for evidence. Thankfully, the tactics below are built on the principle of partnership, as much as they are on service.

  • Collaborate with other law firms: Your clients increasingly need you to help them solve complex problems, from regulatory compliance to cybersecurity. One way to effectively accomplish that is by using teams of multidisciplinary experts, as Thomson Reuters explains. In fact, firms who do so earn ‘stickier’ client relationships and increased revenue. Put simply, competing with firms is the old school, collaborating with them the new.
  • Comply with budgets, time-keeping, and pricing: Cases evolve, projects become more complicated, and issues evolve during long-running matters. This is why complying with outside counsel guidelines (OCGs) and being open with alternative fee arrangements can prove crucial.
  • Suggest proactive legal strategies: While legal work has been notoriously reactive in nature, firms can retain their clients and deliver a truly outstanding experience by preventing legal issues before they arise. While this is likely to come at a cost to billable hours, its effect on lifetime client value can outweigh any short-term concern.
  • Adopt new technologies that enable better legal workflows: Software such as Provy can automate document management, reminders, payment processing, and customer relationship management software into one — to create space in the business to deliver outstanding client experiences.
  • Establish client surveys: Law firms can market their services and aid better practice management by asking clients for their views on their performance. The benefits of doing this are myriad, to both your clients and the firm. Surveys can identify new business development opportunities, facilitate more productive relationships with clients, and provide a forum to address client problems.

Toward a better subscription-based business model

One of the most significant privileges of modern life is our freedom of choice. And although this freedom is, in most cases, limited by the norms and rules of our society, which is quite natural, thanks to this opportunity people are making discoveries, creating inventions and achieving goals.

If the thesis of freedom or the right of choice is applied to the topic of this article, it can be noted that in modern markets there are two sides with different goals: sellers and buyers. The goal of the one side is to limit “freedoms” for buyers, and the other side is interested in complete freedom, close to anarchy.

This is especially noticeable in the market for services and sales of goods by subscription. Perhaps this caught my attention because my company provides services for monitoring and managing monthly expenses, and I can argue that the business subscription model is becoming the primary business model for sales and consumption. Continue reading “Toward a better subscription-based business model”

Copyright and IP

Today, there is almost no anonymity online. Many people strive for the opposite, in fact — total publicity as it concerns their professional goals, copyrighted materials, and intellectual property. In our contemporary world with new value systems, it just doesn’t make sense to hide your intellectual property. The very fact of stopping a new idea from implementation doesn’t make sense. Perhaps, it could even be considered a crime in the future. However, we aren’t speaking to the abolition of the copyright or its infringement.

Against the backdrop of the new developments and opportunities in today’s information-centric culture, copyright registration can be an obsolete means to an ineffective end. In many cases, it’s even a limiting factor for industry development, and oddly enough, infringes on the rights of authors. Our current intellectual property system benefits corporations by complicating the process of protecting the rights of content creators. In an era where opportunities and innovations abound our system is almost a tragic comedy.

In most cases, intellectual property is more like a competition of strength and has nothing to do with people’s actual needs. On one hand, every person has an inherent right to the optimal distribution of their intellectual activities. On the other hand, society has constructed a powerful system of checks and balances, and power lies in the hands of an elite few. It’s no secret that information technology has changed concepts of relationships in all spheres of human activity — including between content creators and their buyers. Continue reading “Copyright and IP”

14 Surprising Services Offered at Banks in Europe

We will not argue about whose banking system is the best in the world. There are different factors to consider for each market so that it is difficult to establish a ranking. (In addition, it would be a boring task.)

But consider the following question. Given the present rate of emergence of new technology and changing models of interaction, how do you think banking will be affected in the years to come?

If you look at banks and financial services in emerging markets, you cannot help but notice the vast number of services provided by banks to their clients that U.S. banks fail to provide. As a customer of several banks in Eastern Europe and an active participant in the fintech community, I can say that many banks in these countries are using technology in order to provide innovative services to their customers. Continue reading “14 Surprising Services Offered at Banks in Europe”

The Future of a Digital Goods Distribution

How will buyer-seller relationships unfold in the future? New digital distribution channels are needed in today’s world, where creating and publishing content is an option for everyone, but selling digital downloads remains a challenge. As more up-and-coming content creators appear, the problem becomes more serious.

Simply put, if I like Dave Brubeck, I’ll exclusively search for his music. However, if you are not Brubeck or Rihanna, you’ll struggle to be noticed because nobody’s heard of you, no matter how brilliant your music maybe. A presence on Amazon or iTunes isn’t always enough if your buyer doesn’t know you exist.

You can certainly publish digital downloads on your blog, but who’s going to buy your book or music there? Your friends and family might just cheer you up. If your blog receives tens of thousands of unique visitors a day, that’s another story entirely. But in most cases, it’s just not that simple. Continue reading “The Future of a Digital Goods Distribution”