Why Smart Law Firms Listen to Clients

“For the smartest firms the opportunities are waiting to be seized, but it will take a dynamic and questioning mindset and an ability to look at the business from the client’s point of view, to be consistently successful.”   (The Age of the Client – LexisNexis Bellwether Report)

In this 3-part series of short articles, we explain how law firms are using “independent client listening” to generate new business, strengthen ties with clients (referrers and business partners too); to develop new service propositions valued more by clients, innovate on service delivery and develop a client-focused culture across the business. It helps lawyers to find tangible new ways to differentiate from competitors and future-proof relationships with clients.

How does your legal practice become one of the “smartest” and  how do you keep the momentum going?

“Smart” Firms Listen to clients to gear up with confidence

To be one of these “smartest firms”, lawyers need to listen more intently than ever before to clients; to understand what the people who run any business envisage for their future. What they want to achieve … for the business and for themselves. You want to know what your practice can do to add more value to your service for them and to make it tangible.

The best way to find out about this is to ask and explore options; but ask with an open mind and a willingness to change, adapt and develop what you currently offer, to develop and deliver new service propositions.

Independent Client Listening is …

  • The best first step when you want to introduce (or re-launch) a meaningful CRM “Client Relationship Management” strategy or initiative; one which enables you to differentiate your practice from competitors.
  • A catalyst to develop new services and methods of delivery that add value to your services; which differentiate your practice from the competition. It enables law firms to explore options to disrupt the status quo for the better and to innovate; do things very differently.
  • Shared Reflection and Innovation – to identify what might be possible; then explore options and find solutions that hadn’t been considered (possible) before.
  • Ammunition to help change attitudes and practices. Once lawyers know what clients really want, they generally knuckle down to find the best way to deliver it. It gives your people confidence to innovate and makes a more interactive relationship with clients more rewarding.
  • A successful way to generate substantial new business from existing clients.
  • Not just for clients. It works for introducers, referrers and business partners too.

Help Lawyers Visualise What Can Differentiate

Our experience shows that most lawyers need help to envisage – sometimes radically different – new ways of working with and providing services to clients and business partners; often involving more collaborative and integrated working relationships. With long-standing relationships, it can be very difficult to see the wood from the trees as handling day-to-day work the way we currently do becomes the norm. It is very difficult to consider any significant change, if it is all running along nicely; as it often does. But then …

“80% of lawyers think they’re delivering above average service … but only 40% of clients say they are receiving it.”   (The Age of the Client, LexisNexis Bellwether Report)

The way people do business has been transformed in even the last 5 years, with dramatic developments in IT, communications, working practices, efficiency, restructuring of business, working patterns, attitudes to collaboration, use of data and much more; all of which creates new challenges and opportunities. Every owner and manager in business clients you work with is considering how best to respond and capitalise on these developments – now and for the future.

Do you know what they are thinking and how best to respond?

Every business owner, CEO, FD and COO thinks – just like you – that what they do makes a difference; they can’t all be thinking and doing the same. They are looking to play to their strengths and the strengths of their business to make them successful in their world.

How can you play some part in making that happen, even if only in some small way for now?

What changes could be made in the way you deal with them and their business to help them achieve their personal and business goals and objectives? Breaking the status quo is otherwise very hard to justify.

Does client listening work? What are the results?

Resoundingly, yes. As a direct result, we can demonstrate that:

  • Closer and more personal working relationships have developed.
  • Radically new service propositions have been introduced.
  • Issues that would have remained hidden have been exposed and addressed successfully.
  • Clients that would have been lost have been retained.
  • New instructions have started to flow from new parts of the business.
  • More collaborative and integrated ways of working together have been developed.
  • Lawyers get inspired by clients and become more confident to innovate.

This kind of approach enables your good people to get better in managing client relationships, which we see as even more critical for law firms going forwards.

The 10 Key Steps

We will elaborate on each of these in Part 3 of this series “Getting Started: How Independent Client Listening Works In Practice” but so that you can see what is involved here, those key steps are:

  1. Choose the clients – between 5 and 20 for a pilot.
  2. Audit and review each with us – with your key contact at each
  3. We research the business, the people and the sector
  4. We agree discussion topics with you.
  5. You get approval to engage from the key contact at the client
  6. We engage, set up and deal with a batch of meetings
  7. You thank the client after the meeting and give timescales for a response
  8. We report back to you with findings, conclusions and recommendations. We run at least one internal workshop to explore information gathered and response
  9. Further internal discussions to share learning, agree and action steps needed to respond.
  10. You report back to client on proposed actions – and proceed from there.

What does Independent Client Listening Feel Like?

We will explain in Part 2, why independent client listening is highly effective. For now, here are a few of the questions we are likely to include in the tailored “Discussion Topics” document that we use as the starting agenda for an interview with each client involved. Some examples to give a feel for just part of the territory we cover with most clients:

  • What do you see as your main business challenges and opportunities over the next 18 months?
  • Where is your personal focus likely to be during that time? Your key priorities? What would success look like for you? Any performance measures?
  • Have you discussed/considered how a strategic relationship with providers of lawyer services can be most valuable to your business? What bearing could this have on which law firms you instruct?
  • What changes (if any) would you like to see made to the team within [Law Firm] that deals with your work and how they operate?
  • How would you like to see the relationship with the firm develop over the next 12-24 months?
  • If the firm were to make just 2 key improvements, what do you think they should be?

Coming soon:

PART 2: Why “Independent” Client Listening Works Best

PART 3: Getting Started: How Independent Client Listening Works Inpractice.

For more information or to discuss how this could work for your practice – in confidence and with no obligation – contact Allan Carton on 07779 653105 or at acarton@inpractice.co.ukwww.inpractice.co.uk