The five biggest trends in law firm client service

When it comes to delivering exceptional client service, lawyers often have great ideas as to how they could improve.

But for most, time spent on non-billable work is limited. LEAP, in partnership with FirmChecker and beaton, an Australian research and consultancy firm operating across the professional services markets, have reviewed the data of client reviews submitted to law and conveyancing practices over the last four years.

From these reviews, LEAP and FirmChecker have identified five trends in law firm client service and key areas where firms can be adding value to their client experience.

1. Focus on the behavioural components of referrals

The legal services market is a difficult one to stand out in and it’s not simply because there is extensive competition. This is because the clients of law firms rely heavily on recommendations from their networks, making referrals a strong driver of new business.

Key takeaways from an analysis of these behavioural drivers include:

  • Expensiveness is the weakest driver. While it is true that there is a negative correlation in that firms whose services are perceived to be more expensive are referred less – this correlation is too weak to be used to drive any strategy in differentiating your firm or increasing your clients’ overall satisfaction.
  • Reliability should be high priority if your firm is considering differentiation strategies. Reliability is about meeting your clients’ expectations around time, budget and the substance of advice or deliverables.
  • Understanding client needs is the strongest driver of client referrals and a competitive necessity. That is, understanding what your clients’ expectations are are and listening to their problems or concerns.

2. Allow clients to remain anonymous when providing feedback

When clients are given the option to remain anonymous when providing feedback, you’ll receive more actionable data.

Data from FirmChecker has revealed that clients who don’t share their name when leaving a review tend to be less satisfied as it makes it easier to give critical, and often constructive feedback. This is why providing this option is so important – receiving honest feedback is critical for identifying where your firm can improve its client service.

FirmChecker data also highlighted that firms that regularly respond to feedback whether positive or negative, tend to perform better overall in terms of client satisfaction.

3. Be consistent with the service you deliver

Data released by FirmChecker highlights that the more consistent a law firm is with their client service, the greater their performance in regards to client satisfaction.

Firms which report high levels of client satisfaction are often the firms which are the most consistent, ensuring that they’re ticking every box for every client – they don’t “forget to send an email”, says Executive Chairman of beaton, Dr George Beaton.

Firms that embrace tools like LEAP’s Web Portal have the advantage of streamlining their client experience processes as well as being able to directly accept referrals. 

4. Offer fixed fees wherever possible

Fixed fee clients perceive the value they receive to be higher while also perceiving the price of services to be lower for a number of reasons, including: 

  • Fixed fees provide certainty, meaning clients have a better understanding of what they are paying for (results or deliverables), rather than just paying for “time”.
  • Fixed fees creates instils the idea of “what I’m getting exceeds what I’m paying” – also known as value.

Dr Beaton explains that the common belief that firms which charge fixed fees earn less doesn’t necessarily hold true. This is because fixed fees actually give you an opportunity to build a premium into your fee.

Law firms better understand the scope and risk of particular types of matters and can better envisage potential roadblocks or additional costs that may arise when compared with the client. They’re in a better position than their client to understand risk. For this reason, a premium for taking that risk should be embedded into the fixed fee.

5. Start measuring

In a saturated market where potential clients cannot easily differentiate between law firms other than from referrals in their networks, feedback offers a prime opportunity for a firm to stand out. 

Some key benefits of setting up a formal feedback process include:

  • Giving your work more meaning by celebrating positive results.
  • Giving you the opportunity to follow up with satisfied clients to request referrals.
  • Helping you determine gaps in your services.
  • Providing an opportunity to remedy client dissatisfaction.

Click here to learn more about how you can capitalise on trends in law firm client service and provide your clients with a purpose-built platform that lets them connect with your firm. 

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