Clients and law firms rate “Value” differently. So what?

“Growing evidence reveals that firms define ‘giving value’ very differently from the way clients assess whether they receive it. There are three simple things a firm can do to get – and stay – on the same page as the executives paying their bills.”

Why does this matter?

As an example: Helping lawyers become more effective at “Pricing” to agree and recover higher fees is high on the agenda for most firms at the minute and quite rightly too.

However, most lawyers still bypass the first critical step – listening to the client – which throws this and just about every other initiative that impacts on client experience, out of kilter. Not listening properly is likely to at least substantially dilute the results of many of the new initiatives in which progressive law firms are currently investing.

Listen to clients (and introducers too) at the beginning to make sure you are aiming to implement a solution that gives them what they value most; not what you think they do.  The understanding that will develop at this point will establish a sound base for new initiatives, including management of client relationships themselves.

On our pricing example – Lawyers can only agree the “best” price that a client is willing to pay (whatever pricing model they use) if the client feels that a lawyer’s involvement helps or enables them to meet the challenges that matter most to them, in a way that works best for them. Business owners and execs are interested in how it impacts on them personally, on their role in the business and on the business itself – so you need to hear all of this whenever possible.

We say – talk to the owners or execs at the client business first to understand what they value (including what is currently missing), make time to explore new options; how the service could change to deliver more value for the client.  Then base your pricing (process or relationship management as discussed below) on the components and value to the client of the new service and relationship; not the old – and the sooner the better if you want to retain good clients.

Lawyers can’t get the relationship or the service right for the client until they know what clients really “value”.  Most think they do, but make too many assumptions when options and expectations are changing quickly; and where every client is different and developing at a different speed.

Many firms are introducing big and expensive changes on Process Improvement, CRM, Artificial Intelligence and wider Technology at the minute (again quite rightly), with the aim of reducing costs and improving service … but are these initiatives being developed with a real understanding of what different clients want from them – apart from a reduction in price?

How do you find out?

All 3 solutions proposed in this informative article (well worth reading) – from James Bliwas – involve 1 key step; “listening to clients”.   I would take that further to say … listen to clients talking about their business, what is expected of them and their challenges, with an open mind and a clean sheet on what the “legal” service could look like. Be prepared to start again … and price the service that flows from this discussion – not the one you provide today.

Find out more about client listening here >>  

Why do it?  

Most firms miss the mark because they don’t dig deep enough, so don’t discover what could be done differently that might, for example, involve more or different collaboration, integration or communication … and more.  Often “less is more” so there can be opportunities to cut out wasted time and steps on both sides; for the lawyer and the client.  New options in these areas have been developing quickly; perhaps even faster and further with some clients than with many law firms.

There is also a tendency in reviewing relationships to look backwards, rather than forwards.

Talk about other aspects of the business that matters to clients … as well as price.  There are usually missed opportunities to make the relationship stronger beyond the handling of individual legal transactions.  What are they … for each client?  Find them.  Things that will keep the client coming back and justify a better return for everyone from the relationship.  To find out what those opportunities are, take time out to discuss and explore options.

Then find ways to share this with your people to develop their understanding so that you can put meaningful new initiatives into practice.  Modify current services, develop new,  introduce better communication, collaboration and integration and whatever else it takes to help clients want to keep coming back.

Our Client Listening is NOT about “client satisfaction”.  We focus on looking forwards in every relationship to new options and opportunities to do better and do more of what the client wants, willing to challenge established ways of working together; but few firms do this effectively.

Make a start to open up these new opportunities effectively by talking to us first.

FREE Consultation: Move to a more efficient paper-lite working environment, with better use of e-documents.

transition-from-paper-to-paperlite-and-digital-with-tba-inpracticeExplore this low risk, high ROI approach to moving your practice to more “paper-lite” working and use of Digital.

“The audit and analysis they performed enabled us to increase the productivity of the Admin/Support team and reduce the costs of document output across the firm. Excellent use of our time and a valuable resource” – Operations Director, Express Solicitors.

Our process automation partners, TBA Group will introduce how they are working with other firms to reduce paper/print volumes, exploring how that can be applied most effectively in your practice to enable you to transition from Paper to Digital.

When it comes to funding the work on a project, TBA will share the risk with you so you pay ONLY a % of the agreed savings that result.

TBA’s Managing Director, Alex Hutchinson will cover all the key steps that ensure the success of a project. He will also discuss any areas where you would like to increase the Operational Efficiency of Documents within your practice, offering free advice on how to make this work in the context of your particular business, taking account of, for example:

  • Your existing use of technology and any options as yet untapped.
  • The nature of the work you handle.
  • Size of your practice and spread of offices.
  • Skills and attitudes of your employees, which can often be critical
  • The needs of your clients and introducers of work.

There is no obligation to progress the discussion further. However, you will learn a good deal about how the TBA approach has successfully added value and increased the Net Profit of similar businesses; a win/win opportunity.

If you go ahead with a project:  TBA Group’s fees are a % of agreed financial savings achieved so they share your risk and their goals are aligned with yours.

For more testimonials on Inpractice UK services to the legal sector – go here >>

To book a consultation with TBA Group, email solutions@inpractice.co.uk or call +44 (0)7779 653105 in confidence, with no obligation.

A modern telephony system can enable your practice to increase fees and profits if you can see what is happening to incoming calls …

 … but only (of course) if you use the information and additional features effectively to improve how calls are handled!  Think more widely about the potential benefits you can achieve if you are considering an upgrade.  Here is just some of the why and how.

Concert Networks’ findings from a recent “Secret Shopper” research into how law firms respond to telephone calls makes depressing reading if you are a partner in virtually any of the firms called.  On average the callers waited on hold for 47 seconds. When you consider that callers become frustrated after being on hold for 20 seconds or more, it is clear that the industry has room for big improvements.

How effectively does your practice handle inbound calls? 

You probably don’t know! If you do, it will probably be because you have already invested in a system with this kind of functionality that goes beyond just handling the call.  Even then, are you putting it to full use yet?  Maybe we can help you make it do more?

Concert Networks’ innovative Cloud Telephony with Call Reporting tools can give you information such as time to answer, call abandoned rate, time on hold and much more; and you can report on this information, giving department heads and senior management an accurate picture of each caller’s experience when they call your firm.

Reliable information to help constantly improve your use of resources

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This reliable real-time, easily accessible data enables you to make informed decisions about the most appropriate working patterns, where and when more (or less) people should be available to answer calls; and to organise effective routing of calls.  It gives you a truly objective way to monitor staff performance and to provide feedback to them to engage them in future improvements too. Without this information, that is (and has been for most firms) very difficult to achieve.

Let your people see what’s happening – to help them improve

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You don’t need to go this far .. but you can in areas of the business where it is appropriate  It lets you see which offices or departments are receiving the most calls, where there are bottlenecks that need to be resolved and much more. ‘Heads-up’ dashboards give you the real time data you need to act accordingly.

As an example of just some of what you could achieve … Bakers Solicitors, saved £500 a month and significantly reduced the number of calls being missed when they switched to Concert Networks’ Cloud Telephony system. Read the case study here.

To find out more about how Call Reporting can help you to increase client satisfaction, win more new business and grow faster request a FREE demo today by clicking on this link.

 

Benchmark your technology against other legal practices with LSN … requiring them to support a good cause too.

lsn-it-landscapeThe Legal Support Network (“LSN”) have produced excellent valuable information on use of technology in law firms from their “IT Landscape” surveys in the past … and they are at it again, compiling more information that they are willing to share with participating law firms.  This is information that can help you benchmark your use of IT and open up fresh thinking amongst your colleagues about what you might do differently – and better – in this critical area.

This is your chance to take part in this year’s IT Landscape survey, to get access to that shared information AND to enable LSN to contribute to worthwhile charities as a result of your participation too.  Feels like win-win all round?

Please take the survey here >>  LSN say it should take “just a few minutes; around 10-15”.

LSN will donate £5 to Shelter for every significantly filled in response, until we get to a donation of £300. If they get more than 100 responses, they will up the maximum to £350. If they get 150, we’ll make it £400.


If you have any questions, please contact Rupert Collins-White, editor-in-chief, Briefing magazine at LSN at rupertw@lsn.co.uk or on 0870 112 5058.

CONVEYANCERS – help clients to recommend you, let new prospects feel what it’s like to be a client

Conveyancing-WorkshopTwo key findings from recent research by tmgroup that can help conveyancers make the most of new opportunities to grow new business across your practice.

Conveyancers – particularly in the current property market – are in a great position to generate business, not just for their own department, but for the whole of the private client team; and commercial too, as company executives buy properties too of course.

  1. When it comes to why clients pick conveyancers, the biggest factor by a significant margin was communication, not price.
  2. Once a client recommends you to their friends, relatives and work colleagues, those who then use your services as a result see that this is the way things should be done – so they in turn are more likely to recommend you too.

All the more reason then to make it easier for your current clients to recommend you; so how do you do that?

Today’s Conveyancer reports today on tmgroup research which shows that people who were recommended a solicitor through a friend are more likely to make a recommendation themselves; whereas those who took an estate agent’s recommendation were much less likely to make a recommendation … and those who found a conveyancer online.

And … when it comes to why clients pick conveyancers, the biggest factor by a significant margin was communication, not price.

So isn’t that something your prospects should experience when someone calls for a “quote”?   Your people don’t need talk about it; just do it.  

AIDA works but involves some initiative by your people to:

  • Get their Attention
  • Demonstrate your Interest in them.
  • Arouse their Desire to come to you, rather than someone else
  • Agree next Actions, to keep the momentum going

Unfortunately, all our own mystery shopping research shows that little has changed in the last 15 years; still virtually no conveyancers make any effective effort to demonstrate their interest in communicating at this stage!

Conveyancers still keep focusing almost entirely on price – because the easiest question to ask and to answer is “How much ..?”

It could easily be so much better!

Conveyancers may also be interested in the following posts:

Risk of Cyber Breaches so high now that Insurance could become Mandatory for lawyers? Time to explore options.

Shocked young girl in front of computer monitor in a law firmInteresting comments from legal practitioners and the insurance sector at the Doctors Chambers Modern Law Conference 2016 at Old Trafford; reported recently in Modern Law.

According to David Hallam, Commercial Director at NCC Group –  the majority of data breaches arise from “phishing attacks”.  He explained that their expert hackers can gain access to systems “within 20 seconds” and once the hackers are in “40% manage to launch malware”, and of that 40%, “30% manage to obtain or compromise sensitive data”.  Responding to questions posed by the session chair, he concluded that cyber insurance “is moving towards becoming mandatory” for lawyers.


According to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report, May 2015:

  1. 23% of people open phishing emails
  2. 11% open the attachments in those emails
  3. In 60% of cases, attackers can compromise your data within minutes
  4. It typically costs between £33 and £35 to fix each record breached

Michelle Garlick, Risk and Compliance expert at Weightmans said – “Firms can’t just sit and hope that attacks won’t happen … [they are] taking insurance more seriously” and looking more at “AAA rated insurance companies”;  also suggesting that when it comes to cyber risk, conveyancing is more risky than personal injury and that it is “too early” for cyber insurance to be mandatory.

On the other hand, Lesley Graves, MD of Citadel Law said that cyber crime could easily affect the personal injury market because firms often deal with “large amounts of money and sensitive information”. She recommended that delegates undertake a “business assessment” and look at how to build the long term cost into the business strategy”.

Ian Muldowney, Head of Professional Indemnity & Financial Risks (Reich Insurance Brokers) has seen a steep increase in calls surrounding cyber risks, particularly over the last 12 months, “with a huge increase in cyber crime activity both in the UK and globally, our clients are discovering that criminals are looking to target large organisations and SMEs alike.”

With the National Crime Agency noting that losses from such crimes exceed £16bn in the UK annually, clients are right to be concerned and to have cover in place which offers both preventative advice and a security blanket should anything go wrong. This is particularly were an expert broker can prove their worth.”

To address these critical risks:

1) Assess the risks and take steps to prevent breaches. The priority should be to take the 10 steps highlighted in this article to make your practice more cyber-resilient.

2) Insure against the breaches you can’t prevent.  You can be sure that no law firm can eradicate the risks completely – so backup insurance is essential with the risks clearly increasing here.  To give you a feel for the kind of cover available from reputable and reliable insurers, speak with a broker who has taken the time to understand Cyber insurance – such as Reich Insurance – who can review your needs and advise you on the best solutions available.

Reich Insurance, Cyber risksA policy can be sourced to provide:

  1. 24 hour incident number available 24/7.  Essential as it is critical to act quickly.
  2. A specialist IT forensics expert within 1 hour.
  3. Diagnosis of the issue, fixing it and getting the business back on track.
  4. Covering the costs of a) notification, b) data restoration, c) cyber business disruption and d) cyber extortion, all of which are real and potentially substantial costs in this situation.
  5. Help with public relations and specialist legal advice.

For more information about this and other relevant insurance policies, contact Ian Muldowney, Head of Professional Indemnity & Financial Risks, Reich Group of Companies on 0161 830 5491 or at ian.muldowney@reichinsurance.co.uk

To discuss what steps you should be taking now to reduce the risks of cyber breaches and build cyber resilience into your practice, contact Frank Manning at Inpractice UK on 0161 929 8355 or fmanning@inpractice.co.uk

6 practice development topics you will want to read … and share with some of your colleagues.

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, Nick Holmes, Delia VenablesThe latest issue of the Internet Newsletter from Infolaw is now published.

In this issue

  1. Continuing Practice Development – Nick Holmes explains the changes to CPD being implemented by the SRA and the BSB
  2. Data protection – David Flint of MacRoberts considers two recent developments relating to data protection and trade secrets
  3. Customer care – Mindy Gofton of I-COM looks at the potential of using chatbots for customer service
  4. IT security – Lynda Minns considers the measures independent practitioners need to take in relation to IT security
  5. Cloud-based legal software – Delia Venables describes the products from 30 suppliers offering cloud-based software for lawyers
  6. Data protection – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words introduces the new General Data Protection Regulation

Access the Newsletter online