13 May LawNet launch results of the Client Experience
Embargoed until 13th May 2015
LawNet chief executive Chris Marston will be launching “The Client Experience” with a presentation at LEGALEX AT ExCeL London, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL on Wednesday 13th May at 12noon and Thursday 14th May at 4pm.
THE BIG REVEAL : COMMUNITY OPENS UP RESEARCH BASE TO SHARE SECTOR SECRETS ON HOW TO KEEP THE CUSTOMER SATISFIED
Results of the sector’s biggest-ever consumer-facing research show communication skills and follow-up are key to meet the challenge of changing consumer demand
Customer service and communication are the most important drivers to future law firm growth.
That’s the message to come out of the biggest-ever customer research project conducted in the legal sector, with commentators saying the results highlight the need to learn more from the retail sector.
The findings have been published by LawNet, the collaborative non-profit network for independent law firms, following two years of research involving nearly 25,000 client experience questionnaires and 1,100 mystery shops across its member community.
And whilst firms got the thumbs up from customers for great technical expertise and delivering positive outcomes, the research flagged up key areas for improvement.
The most important areas flagged by customers as having the potential to increase their satisfaction, were the speed of response, upfront clarity on timescales and fees, combined with regular progress reporting and fees updates.
The results show that the price quoted for a job is one of the least important factors in the decision to appoint a firm, with recommendation or previous contact being the most persuasive reasons, making customer satisfaction key to future growth.
The feedback also showed that advertising alone was not enough to convert customers, with only 3% saying this was an influencing factor, pointing to a need for greater emphasis on sales follow up by firms. Qualitative feedback from mystery shopping showed that where follow up processes were not adhered to, clients interpreted it as a lack of interest and firms were unlikely to convert the business.
Commenting on the results, Andrew McMillan, former head of customer service for John Lewis, said: “This research is invaluable in providing the big picture to the sector and it underlines the bare truth of what customers are looking for when they buy legal services. It shows that the basics are the same as in any other sector for today’s sophisticated purchaser.”
“Without those basics – or so-called ‘hygiene factors’ – in place, it’s impossible to make the leap into developing a real customer-focussed personality,” added McMillan, who oversaw John Lewis securing the UK Best Retailer top slot for keeping its customers happy.
The research is being undertaken by LawNet as part of the delivery and audit of the network’s Mark of Excellence, part of the network’s bespoke ISO standard, which requires network members to take part in mystery shopping and online customer surveying. The research is an ongoing project, with resulting feedback being used to guide future training and development for members.
“Retailers have always seen customer experience as the key to success and profitability, whereas professionals still tend to focus on the technical,” said LawNet chief executive Chris Marston. “But in a world where clients can place an order online, choose a delivery slot and receive an almost instant email despatch confirmation, those expectations are being brought into the legal sector and firms must do all they can to improve the customer journey. It’s about being easy to do business with.”
He added: “Some firms within the sector may be unwilling to acknowledge the similarities between themselves and retail operators, but after two years of research we’ve got a huge, robust set of data to learn from. We’ve seen members of the LawNet community implementing changes to respond to the findings, often turning to other sectors for good ideas to improve the client experience in their own businesses, and they are already seeing the benefits. It’s about being brave enough to face the facts.”
“Having a great service proposition is all very well, but if enquiries aren’t captured and followed up, that’s a terrible waste. Follow up isn’t being pushy, it’s about responding to an identified need. Satisfied clients will bring repeat business and recommend you to others, and our research has proved that service is much more important than price – a mere 4% of respondents quoted cost as the reason for instructing the firm.”
LawNet’s publication The Customer Experience : Lessons for law firms, covering the research and learning is available as a White Paper for download or in print.
About the research:
The mystery shopping was carried out by independent specialist Shopper Anonymous, and involved a mix of walk-ins, telephone calls, web enquiries and out-of-hours calls, repeated at regular intervals.
The online bespoke customer satisfaction surveying is delivered by Law League to identify and measure strengths and weaknesses, fee earner performance and overall satisfaction levels. Performance is benchmarked against fellow LawNet members and other firms taking part nationally.
Examples of responding to the findings:
FBC Manby Bowdler, West Midlands : research showed a need for improved communication skills amongst reception staff, as a result of which they carried out a training programme for these front-line staff.
“This real, on-the-ground information is allowing us to assess what’s working and helping us to make the necessary changes to truly focus on how we service clients,” Kim Carr, managing partner.
Andrew & Co, Lincolnshire : research showed a need to keep customers well informed of the progress of jobs and resulting charges.
“Costs information was high up the list, but clients were talking not so much about the amount of the fee, but rather about the extent of communication. By encouraging each team to take ownership of the way they work both in the context of the client feedback provided, and in designing benchmarks for service delivery we’ve seen much improved scores in our own customer feedback,“ Phillip Hoskins, partner.
For further information, please contact:
Maggie Taylor, Prima PR & Marketing
Direct line: 01400 251557 Mobile: 0797 3767602 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Helen Hamilton-Shaw, Director of Services, LawNet
Direct line: 01926 834622 Email: email@example.com
Notes to Editor:
LawNet was established in 1989 to enable a collaborative, non-competing national network where independent law firms could access big firm resources and benefit from collective purchasing, shared knowledge, best practice and expertise.
All members share a commitment to excellence and must achieve and maintain LawNet’s own ISO.9001 standard and the associated Mark of Excellence in client service. The combined income of the 65 firms comprising LawNet is currently in excess of £250m – equivalent to a UK Top 15 law firm – with members ranging from £2m to £20m turnover.
Independent research shows LawNet is most highly valued by members for delivering in six key areas – training, networking, PII, practice development, marketing and compliance. It currently places some £1.2bn worth of PI cover alone for members each year, which helps stabilise premiums for firms.
www.lawnet.co.uk Twitter: @LawNetUK