How Lawyers Can Improve Client Experience
STORY INLINE POST
The world of law is increasingly competitive. There are just over 400,000 lawyers in Mexico, and there are almost 400,000 law students. There are more and more lawyers every day. Consequently, there is more and more competition.
In this context of increased competition, it is not useful to do "more of the same" just because it worked before. The most sensible thing to do is to consciously choose how we want to play the game, and then focus our work to be able to play it that way.
How can we play the game? Broadly speaking, we see three alternatives:
1. Focus on price: This is a bad game to play. There will always be someone willing to charge cheaper fees, even at the cost of ruining their business. This is even more true when there is no orderly management of the business and they don’t know for sure whether or not they are profitable at those cheaper fees, which is not uncommon in today's legal world.
2. Focus on the quality of our legal counsel. A very noble aspiration, but with at least two relevant problems:
- It is very difficult to prove that our service is of higher quality compared to that of the lawyer next door. The client can see when we make a serious mistake (missing a deadline) but cannot discern when the subtlety of our advice was actually better than that of the lawyer next door. He does not have the knowledge for that.
It's like going to the doctor: we can see something is serious because the doctor is providing a drug to a patient but we can't technically assess much more than that.
Not being a subject matter expert, the client (or the patient in the case of the example) cannot evaluate the quality of the advice when it is already above a certain minimum.
It is very unlikely that the client will judge the quality of our service only by its legal content. This is always surprising to many lawyers when they provide services, but not when they consume them. The same lawyers who speak to their clients in a complex language and who only think about the "technical" solution to the problem they are presented with, are the ones who then go to a restaurant and not only evaluate the food they are served but also multiple other factors (ambiance, service). Continuing with the medical example above, there is a very interesting study from the US that is linked to this. It has been shown that surgeons were the least likely to receive malpractice claims. The study found that the only statistically relevant variable was the human connection: putting a hand on the shoulder, smiling, answering questions in a good mood. The quality of the surgery itself was statistically irrelevant.
3. Distinguishing ourselves by the experience we provide: meeting the client where he/she is and giving him/her what he/she needs. This is what we are going to talk about today: how to understand and satisfy the needs of our clients, providing a high quality service that the client can judge for himself. Building a reputation on this basis, in this increasingly competitive context, can be truly invaluable.
Three Ways to Improve Client Experience
Be aware of the customer’s journey and provide an effortless experience: The customer is on a journey. It is key to understand what stage they are in — what happened and what should happen next — and thus be able to evaluate what should happen during the interaction or service.
A good way to implement this is to start by understanding the major customer segments, sketch the customer journey, and then understand where we play.
The next step is to identify ways to improve the experience for that stage. A very simple example: If you want to improve the "find a lawyer" stage, set up a simple way to schedule a meeting and provide clear information on what to bring and the next steps.
We don't need to solve all the client's needs at every stage. Let's be clear about what would be considered a "success" for the client at each stage and focus on achieving that at each stage.
It is key to understand that everything we do linked to customer experience improvement has to be framed within "continuous improvement." In this case, once each segment of the customer journey is done, they have to be continuously enriched.
Understand the customer's perspective and concerns: It is essential to create a better customer experience by listening to the customer, giving him the information he really needs.
It is rare that the client is looking for a master class in law. As the saying goes, "the client doesn't want a drill, he wants a hole." Only through questioning and listening can we explore what the client really needs and how we can best deliver it.
When we put ourselves in the customer's shoes and understand where the customer is, we can empathize with the customer and tailor our actions to that context. Without this, it is almost impossible to deliver a good experience.
Constant, clear and consistent communication: When a client contacts a lawyer it is because he/she has a problem or a relevant situation. This usually generates anxiety. A good recipe to combat anxiety is clear and constant communication.
Phrases like "the result depends on many things," so typical in our field, do not help. The lawyer is the expert and can give an expert opinion. Normally the client will not want a mathematical estimate of their chances of success but they will want guidance. We lawyers can provide that. So can an estimate of cost, or an explanation in common language of what is happening and what might happen in the future.
As for the form of the message, it is advisable to adapt to the client's tastes. The best way to do this is to ask them how they want to receive the news: face-to-face meetings, telephone, WhatsApp, e-mail? There are many technological tools that can help us with this, but these are only useful if the lawyer is convinced of the importance of constant and clear communication.
At the base of all this is the quality of legal judgment. Although this is difficult to evaluate, it will always be key. Moreover, we see that as low value-added tasks (many linked to execution) become automated and administration becomes more professional, what will distinguish the lawyer of the future is his or her legal judgment… — and his or her ability to serve clients.
At Lemontech, we are committed to fostering a modern and fair legal world, in which lawyers can spend more time with their clients in a timely and efficient manner. Putting the client at the center is a priority for all firms and lawyers must also focus on the client, improve their communication, transparency and attention.