If Virgin Trains give you a bad experience (ticket office, late train, poor service, toilets broken and non-caring staff) from Liverpool or Manchester to London you feel pretty angry but are likely to use them again as they are the only train service and driving or plane are not for you. As a client or prospect of a law firm you have a choice; you can give the lawyers a bad reputation, which will get passed on – and you can go to another supplier.
It is a simple fact that law firms compete by delivering greater value to clients than their competitors. If you are not able to deliver value, or enable the client to recognise [measure] it, then there is little chance of winning, keeping or growing them for more business. The key therefore to securing the future success of your firm is to identify the sources of client value and understand how clients measure it?
My co-consultant Lee Williams firstname.lastname@example.org is increasingly bringing his extensive experience in the management of client expectations from a commercial and financial services environment into the legal sector dealing with culture and business processes (lean) to effect major improvements.
“Anytime a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business, however remote, it is an opportunity to form an impression.” Jan Carlzon (Former CEO, Scandinavian Airlines)
Lee says “Essentially value is equated or measured by clients in terms of a set of positive or negative experiences? We often simplify this to being, a measure of value for money! But it can be much more than this. Value is measured by clients, through their analysis of what it is like doing business with us, the output from interaction or benefits when compared with the sacrifices they make in doing, and choosing to do, business with us.
Ahead of this article a quick straw poll of just a few of my friends about what it is like dealing with law firms brought about the following comments:
“Tell them to answer their phones!”
“I hope you’re not going to talk to them for too long, they charge by the minute”.
“They charge 21st century fees for a 19th century service”.
These ‘moments of truth’ possibly provide an invaluable insight into what it is like ‘doing business’ with your firm – enabling you and your colleagues to respond positively.
Question 1 – What is it like doing business with us?
You need to start by capturing those moments of truth, both positive and negative, that describe what it is like doing business with you!
Second, you need to map out your clients experiences, their key touchpoints, who they talk to (or not in the case of my friend’s experience), how you compare to other businesses they deal with (including professional service businesses), what process you put them through, what communications you make or don’t, how many people they have to deal with. This list can be extensive, however when complete you can really describe their experiences (remember all clients are different and so are their expectations and experiences).
Question 2 – Which businesses that you deal with deliver a great customer experience and why? How do you compare them?
Next you need to understand your sources of value. These can be your people; “we just love working with John he’s an absolute star” or “the efficient way you handled my case was excellent”. Interestingly, the core element of your service, i.e. law, won’t often be cited as a source of value. Often your ability to perform law is simply expected, it’s what all law firms do; it’s not what differentiates you over competitors.
Question 3 – What is it that you actually value in doing business with us? Why us, not them?