The traditional client/lawyer relationship is being turned on its head. Learning about and understanding what they want every step of the way, is key to giving them a great service. LexisNexis’ recently published research highlights that 80% of lawyers think that they are delivering above average service, but only 40% of clients say they are receiving it. So where is the gap?
The report identifies that clients are increasingly demanding a 24 /7 service, and they like to be in control, knowing what is happening with their case every step of the way … and “clients aren’t just judging lawyers on results, but also on the quality and smoothness of their journey”.
This is in contrast to the lawyer-client relationship of the past where the power in the relationship has swung to the client and ‘the priestly dominance of the professional advisor has disappeared’. ‘Clients know what they need and how it should be delivered. Lawyers are all too often seen, and indeed still perceive themselves, to be reactive rather than proactive’.
Interestingly, LexisNexis say that being kept updated on progress ranks as number 2 on clients’ scale of priorities, but is down at number 10 of the priorities of lawyers. Clearly there is a mismatch.
In addition, being cost conscious is described as the major influencing factor with many clients demanding fixed fees, presenting a key challenge for law firms. ‘Lawyers need to understand what cost consciousness means to a client and that is not necessarily just about keeping them informed of where the costs are in any given project.’
At Acuigen we are asked questions about how businesses and firms respond to this type of shift in the dynamics of a client or customer relationship and how they should respond. This will often have a lot to do with a business or firm’s evolving culture, brand values, the relative age and experience of fee earners and the remuneration model of the business or firm.
In practice, for all firms, the best way to answer the questions is by listening to your clients and customers every step of the way. By doing this firms start to get the answers they need, build action plans, drive change and make adaptations that provide the foundations to meet evolving clients’ requests.
The LexisNexis report strongly emphasises the necessity for lawyers to put themselves in their client’s shoes in order to understand the impact of their client’s changing attitudes, we couldn’t agree more. In summary, and as the report says … ‘The key is in getting lawyers to realise that they need to focus on real client priorities throughout the entire client journey and regularly anticipate how they might be feeling, rather than simply responding to their prompts.
Only a future of continuous innovation will ensure they can meet future challenges head-on.’
The age of the client report is published by LexisNexis Bellwether http://businessoflaw.lexisnexis.co.uk/download-the-bellwether-report-2015/