Understanding what legal clients want and expect, by Claire Smith of Moneypenny
Claire Smith, Head of Business Development at the legal sector’s leading outsourced communications provider, Moneypenny, gives insight into what clients really want.
The legal services market has never been more competitive, and the proliferation of new technologies is overhauling the very essence of how law firms deliver value and importantly, how clients buy legal services.
Consequently, customer service is a hot topic with more firms choosing to invest in this area as they recognise the need to stand out and offer a memorable, and positive experience to clients. It’s particularly necessary too, as legal clients become more informed and price sensitive and demand much faster, more transparent and more human experiences.
Research shows that 86% of customers would pay up to 25% more for a better customer service experience and that customer service is set to overtake product and price as a key differentiator. If those figures weren’t compelling enough – in a survey of 1000 customers, 92% said they would stop purchasing from a company after three or fewer poor customer service experiences; 26% of those would stop after just one. 67% of customers would proactive dissuade others from using a company that provided poor service.
There is a huge opportunity for legal firms to overhaul the sector’s approach to client care and embrace the tools, attitudes and approach of other service-led customer-centric sectors. According to research from Lexis Nexis this is imperative. 80% of lawyers think they’re delivering above average service compared with just 40% of their clients. To close this gap and make sure legal firms meet clients’ expectation, there are four key considerations:
1.Understand clients’ needs and expectations
In a 24/7 age, it’s important to recognise that today’s legal clients do not feel the constraints of traditional 9-5 office hours and will research and reach-out to potential legal partners at all times of day and night.
Clients are knowledgeable about what they want, how much they’re willing to pay and what they expect. They want open communication, transparency and swift responses. In return this means that legal firms need to be ready for those conversations and importantly be present and accessible when clients want to have them. Firms that take advantage of advances in technology and pay attention to clients’ preferred channels of communication, will undoubtedly prosper and capture greater market share. After all, if you don’t know what they want, need or expect, how can you stand to respond appropriately?
The inability to reach the person you want, when you want, is frustrating. For legal clients this is perhaps even greater – particularly as clients’ anxiety levels may already be high due to the personal challenges that led to them needing legal assistance.
Accessibility should be a prime consideration and it starts with the basics – including telephone answering. Missed calls are costly for legal firms and present a less than positive image of those law firms. Most legal practices underestimate the amount of calls they miss by almost a third which means they’re not prioritizing client care and will be losing business to firms that are. If you also consider that 69% of callers choose to hang up rather than leave a voicemail message, and that one in ten telephone calls to a law firm is a brand new enquiry, it’s easy to see how costly being unresponsive is.
- Offer a special front of house experience
Reception and front-of-house teams work incredibly hard but they can get caught up answering the phone and handling other administration which can often be at odds with offering a warm, friendly and personal welcome when people visit the office.
Consumer research has shown that 59% of customers consider being treated as an individual as more important than how quickly their needs were met or an issue resolved. In a fast paced digital age the importance of the personal touch is growing – no one wants to be made to feel like a case number. Instead we favour positive, personal and human interactions. Our universal dislike of voicemail and IVR systems is testament to that. If you can make people feel important, valued and ‘seen’ – whether that’s over the phone, through your website or when they visit your office – you are going a long way to meeting and exceeding their expectations.
4.Be completely accessible online
All firms know the necessity of a website but not all legal firms are offering the web experience that clients expect. 30% of web visitors expect to see live chat on the websites they visit yet only 17% of legal firms are making use of the technology.
Live chat helps to show firms as accessible and willing to engage in conversation. Most website visitors leave within just 10-20 seconds so a well-timed live chat pop-up can stimulate a question that may otherwise never be asked and engage a potential new client. As 41% of all live chats are for new business enquiries, it’s clear that being accessible and relevant in this way pays dividends.
Enhancing the website experience so that clients and prospects can engage directly through it has unexpected benefits too. Live chat enquirers tend to offer more personal information than through any other marketing channel which means their needs can be identified and met more efficiently. It also presents a significant opportunity to improve customer understanding. Accessibility builds insight.
Excellent customer care comes as a result of understanding what legal clients want, need and expect. It requires firms to prioritise it and define what customer excellence means and looks like. While this is vital for front of house staff and call-handlers, it must also be engrained across an entire firm and at every level, to ensure that the customer journey is not just consistent, but excellent, every time.
Today’s legal clients are knowledgeable, time-poor and often demanding – the firms that thrive will be those that recognise this and respond appropriately. The customer is still king.
Author: Claire Smith is the business development director at Moneypenny.
Moneypenny handles more than 2 million legal calls and live chats each year for more than 1,000 legal firms in the UK, including 60 of the Top 200, thanks to its dedicated team of 60 legal PAs.
Established in 2000, Moneypenny is the world's market leader for telephone answering, live chat, outsourced switchboard and customer contact solutions. In total, more than 13,000 businesses across the UK benefit from Moneypenny’s mix of extraordinary people and ground-breaking technology. For more information about Moneypenny’s work with the legal sector, visit https://www.moneypenny.com/uk/legal-answering-services/
 Temkin Group research as quoted in Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2018/04/10/want-better-customer-experience-combine-crm-and-customer-feedback/#18b68ce43fbb
 Forbes research: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2018/04/10/want-better-customer-experience-combine-crm-and-customer-feedback/#18b68ce43fbb
 Lexis Nexis Bellwether Report 2015 – The Age of the Client
 Moneypenny’s legal intelligence insights 2018
 Moneypenny’s own data
 Moneypenny’s own data
 Moneypenny’s own data
 Figures from the Nielsen Norman Group
 Moneypenny’s own data