For a law firm, clients are the source of both, today’s business and tomorrow’s referrals. Hence, they have a crucial role to play, and law firms providing legal services strive to integrate their voice in all that they do. In the pursuit of random acts of marketing, sometimes law firms fail to adopt a client-centric approach as they engage with their prospects and clients.
The critical elements of business development include forming a strong in-person and online relationship with the clients and providing unparalleled client service at all times.
What does it mean to be customer-centric?
It is not a new idea that client-centered law firms are more successful. This approach has been taken by forward-thinking lawyers for years. Running a client-centered law firm means putting yourself in your client’s shoes and from their point of view, looking at the experience of hiring a lawyer.
As a lawyer, it becomes your responsibility to help your clients resolve their legal issues timely, and if possible, in an affordable fashion. Having a client-centered approach can be helpful in this as building a trustful relationship with the client ensures that you easily get the information required. Satisfied clients will refer more clients to you once their case is closed.
Why focus on creating a client-centered law firm?
It may seem to you that you are doing well in this department as you follow all the procedures efficiently. But, as per the 2018 Legal Trends Report that surveyed over 1,300 consumers to take an average NPS for the legal industry, lawyers are not doing as well as they think they are when it comes to the client experience.
In the Legal Trends Report, 57% of the consumers surveyed said that they have dealt with such an issue that could have been handled legally, but was not. While cost is one of the significant factors in the decision to hire a lawyer, the quality of the experience was also a factor. Hence, lawyers need to make themselves more accessible by providing a better client experience.
What challenges do you face in achieving a customer-centric organization?
It requires significant efforts in achieving a customer-centric organization, and the following are some challenges that come in the way:
1. Increasing competition
Delivering exceptional client services is the major goal for any law firm, but the increasing competition among law firms is having an intense effect on the profession. A report by Rob Hosking says that if clients are unsatisfied with a particular law firm, there are always other choices available for them, and competitiveness is also gaining pace between firms for retaining and maintaining internal legal talent.
There is tightening in the market in a way that there is less availability of good talent, and the law firms are trying their best to hold onto them.
2. Digital transformation
Future Trends for Legal Services, Deloitte’s 2016 global research study, shows that conventional law firms are no longer meeting today’s business needs. There is no doubt in the fact that lawyers are facing intense pressure, and the legal services environment now is becoming increasingly complex. These factors initiate discussions about a need for change.
Digital transformation is the solution that law firms need. Like many other industries that have adopted digital technology in their business, law firms should widely accept the same and integrate it into their work processes.
3. Attracting clients
Customers are the lifeblood of the law firm. No customers imply no business. Due to increased competition in the market, many law firms want your customers to be theirs. With so many options available, standing out from your competition is important, and it is a challenge to attract and retain customers. Reaching out to people is an art, and it must be mastered for your business growth.
What are the qualities that client-centric lawyers or law firms embody?
- Stating symbolically, they always leave an empty chair at the table for the client’s interest in every discussion. Before taking a step forward in anything, they question themselves ‘how this approach, policy, or decision will affect my client?’
- They are avid listeners and ask great questions.
- They learn everything that they can about the client’s needs, expectations, worries, and working preferences.
- They are able to put themselves in the client’s shoes and are extremely empathetic.
- They treat their client’s money like their own.
- They think ahead and worry about the issues that can affect the client in the long run and suggest solutions for the same.
How to Develop a Client-Centric Approach at Your Law Firm?
1. Multi-disciplinary legal solutions provider
It was stressed by Keynote speaker Jordan Furlong that future law firms must be multi-disciplinary, enterprise-based, and offer operations/software/process-based legal solutions. He encourages law firms to reconstruct themselves around their clients, upgrading the client experience, and responding to as many client outcomes as possible.
2. Understand your clients
It is essential that while dealing with your clients, you should be genuine in your interest and listen to them without interrupting. Do not try to convince your clients of all that you know or your point of view. Instead, focus more on the clients and what they have to say – concerns, needs, and questions.
Your firm’s overall approach should be built around the clients that you serve.
3. Maintain a good relationship with your business partners
Business relationships hold immense importance, and that being said, you should be very selective in who you do business with. There are very few firms that are large enough to handle everything in-house, so business partners must be respected, and a healthy relationship must be maintained as they are an essential part of your day-to-day business operations.
Focus on shared goals and communicate openly with your business partner.
4. Prompt clients for feedbacks
It is natural to be afraid of what you might hear back from your clients, and hence, lawyers are resistant to open doors for feedbacks. However, this practice is not appreciated as it hinders your growth in the long run. A formal and informal client feedback program should be set up, and the clients must be prompted at every stage for respective feedback.
Also, make sure that you act on the feedback that you receive, or else the entire process will have no point.
5. Get an inside out understanding of your client’s business
Stay attuned to the significant news and developments that affect your client’s business. This will help you to anticipate their needs better and provide smarter solutions to their legal problems.
You can set up Google Alerts on your prospects and clients, which will provide you with valuable information about them. You can then contact them for congratulating on some latest success or send relevant articles related to the legal issue they might be facing.
6. Cultivate a good network
More than 90% of those who make hiring decisions gather information from the people they know. The in-house counsel often hires outside counsel whom they can trust. Hence, encourage your lawyers to keep in contact with past clients, former colleagues, and alumni from law school.
Never underestimate the importance of any connection. Be fair, helpful, and kind to everyone and grow your network as much as you can.
In this competitive and saturated market, it has never been more important to adopt a client-centric approach in everything you do as a legal support firm. Keeping your focus on the client helps you to become a trusted business advisor in the client’s inner circle and grows your business through referrals by satisfied clients.