Is your firm making client plans for FY21? It’s shaping up to be a year like no other. At this time, it’s very hard to predict how this global pandemic will play out.
One thing is for certain – change brings opportunities and threats – and firms who deliver an excellent client experience will be the winners.
How will COVID-19 change the demand for legal services?
According to McKinsey, COVID 19 will impact your clients’ businesses and their requirements from your firm in just about every aspect of law. Therefore, what clients wanted in FY20 may not be the same in FY21. Does your firm know what clients want and if so, how will you respond?
What makes a great client experience?
According to our own research, and the research of others, such as pwc, and Clio, clients are looking for clear advice from friendly and knowledgable professionals who set upfront expectations about price and service. It doesn’t sound like too much to ask, does it? Yet 9 out of 10 law firms fail the first impression test. In fact, the 2019 Legal Trends Report, produced by Clio, goes so far as to say that lawyers actually drive clients away.
Is this happening in your firm? And how do you make client plans to address client service problems with clarity and confidence? Planning via gut instinct is limited and this year’s planning process can’t be a ‘rinse & repeat’ of last year.
Can I rely solely on data to make decisions?
No. Historical data will give insight but past behaviour isn’t always an accurate prediction of future behaviour. Similarly, talking to clients about their intentions doesn’t always reflect how they actually behave.
The integrity of the data is another factor to consider. As the old adage goes “rubbish in = rubbish out”.
Data-led decision making isn’t 100 percent bullet proof but it does provide more information to support intelligent client plans.
Here are five ways you can source insights to support your FY21 client plans.
1. Interrogate your data
Chances are, your firm is already sitting on a wealth of client data, waiting to be turned into insights to inform your client plans. For example, will your Top 20 percent of clients from FY19/20 look the same in FY20/21?
There are multiple sources of this data, depending on the sophistication of your firm’s systems.
Sources of data include:
- Financial systems – your firm’s invoicing system will give you historical billing trends. Depending on how the system is set up, you can drill down further, looking at revenue by practice area, client and partner, and potentially client demographics like industry and location. Look for trends and consider how they will be impacted by COVID-19.
- Practice management systems – are often used for internal reporting but contain a wealth of client information, including the number and nature of matters by client and by practice area. Again, ask ‘how can we improve?”
- Client relationship management system (CRM) – is a valuable source of information to support your CX plans. For example, your CRM offers great insight to your sales process and your touch points with clients (particularly if users have been diligent at entering data into the system), which you can use to fine-tune your CX strategy.
2. Analyse your email data
Another source of factual information is your email data. With your whole team working from home, it’s hard to know which clients are receiving too much or not enough communication via email and how it compares with other channels like video conferencing and phone calls.
There is some great software, which can help you glean insights from email correspondence across the entire firm. This data can help you with:
- Client plans – monitoring, mapping & managing key client relationships
- Winning new work – see how cross referrals, lateral hires & acquisitions help you develop new business
- Succession plans – seeing how client contact departures and new starters affect the relationship
Talk to CXINLAW about gaining insights from your email data to help manage, grow and protect your client relationships.
3. Competitor Data
Before you plan that webinar series, do a bit of sleuthing on your competitor’s website and social media. What are they offering? Does their comms plan look exactly the same as yours? If so, it might be a good idea to reflect on what you can do differently. How can you solve your clients immediate business problems and make it easy for them to quickly get and digest the information they need? It’s worth reflecting – will another 60 minute webinar be the answer?
4. Virtual Client Advisory Board
Analysing historical data will only get you so far. Listening to clients about their business (particularly how COVID-19 is impacting) will add depth to your understanding and help you plan accordingly.
There’s no doubt the client experience during COVID-19 is vastly different from normal. A virtual (online) client advisory board is a good way to gain a deeper understanding. It allows two-way communication, giving you the flexibility to ask open-ended questions and probe deeper on topics of interest. For example “tell us about your experience working with our firm during COVID-19. Has it been on par with your expectations?”
Firms must be intentional in the way they go about this. Coffee catch-ups (virtual or otherwise) have their place however, our experience is that a structured and scheduled client interview approach ensures the right clients are asked the right questions in the right way. This approach gleans actionable insights, deepens your understanding of your clients and often uncovers an unmet need or new business opportunity for the firm.
You may prefer to use a third party to conduct your client interviews, so your clients feel comfortable to provide frank and honest feedback, without the fear of offending you.
5. Mystery client research
Similar to the client advisory board, mystery client research is a good way to uncover hidden insights along your clients’ service journey with your firm.
It’s likely a good deal of your business in FY21 will be conducted via e-channels, so it’s a good idea to understand how that feels for your clients and whether you have established the right balance of digital and human touch for each client to maximise their service experience.
In summary, writing your FY21 business plans will be challenging. The changes brought about by COVID-19 means there are a lot of grey areas. Taking a data-led approach to decision-making will bring insight and a degree of confidence to your planning that your clients will reward with increased loyalty, spend and referrals.
Talk to CXINLAW about how we can provide client insights to support your FY21 planning.