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Four ways to bring your service promise to life

What is on every law firm’s website? A promise of client service excellence. Yet, does your firm have a program in place to train teams to deliver exceptional client service?

After findings revealed by a joint ALPMA/CXINLAW survey, No Second Chances, ALPMA president Andrew Barnes said “We exist in very competitive times. Law firm differentiators are not easy to identify, let alone leverage. Firms who rely on the personal element of relationships will do well to introduce client experience excellence into their thinking.”

Every single interaction with a client is an opportunity for a “wow’ moment in terms of service – a moment the client will talk about to their peers.

So, how does your law firm look and sound to prospects and clients? Do you see the world as your clients do or is the firm stuck in ‘business as usual’? How much of your firm’s budget is allocated to marketing or business development without tracking new business results? Too often the answers to these questions are vague and lack objectivity, yet most partners know they are important considerations to grow profitably and retain quality staff and clients.

In a world of competing priorities, the commercial imperative to invest in client service excellence can seem elusive. The reality is that for those investing in a strong service culture (as part of their marketing spend, not in addition to) have seen average results of:

  • 20% decrease in client acquisition costs
  • 27% increase in file openings
  • 22% gain in production delivered at lower cost
  • 50% decrease in debtor days
  • Significantly higher staff morale, client focus and retention
  • 20% increase in revenue following 12 month development

Investment in client service requires F.I.I.Tness

1. Focus

Compare your firm to the world of service providers, not just other law firms. Every one of us has experienced great, mediocre and bad customer service, and so have your clients. Their experience of great service is the benchmark they will hold you to. Don’t rely on your own view of the firm’s service levels or on end of matter client surveys.

Invest in gaining external and objective proof/evidence before embarking on any change program. This evidence should include first impressions (will we work together?), heart of the matter (how are we working together?) as well as at the end of the matter (will we work together again?)

2. Inspire

Use these leaders of client service excellence to activate and inspire your team. A well-developed, proven change program will see individual staff members’ be drawn to take on distinct roles in the program.

These staff become the firm’s champions of client service and potentially, future leaders. A change program that engages the team rather than be driven from the top is one that will endure.

3. Innovate

Engage everyone in how to improve your firm’s client service. It isn’t just greeting clients at your reception, nor your fee earners. It extends to every touchpoint, including correspondence (formal, informal and regulatory) and processes. Is every touchpoint showing ease, empathy and effectiveness? Innovation will deliver firm specific changes to differentiate your firm.

4. Train

Client experience excellence requires new skills and smarts, so train your teams to boost and sustain performance. The starting point is often being clear about the clients you want to work with.

Provide staff with templates and documented service standards that can become a part of your new staff induction program. But don’t let dust settle on these documents. Allow your internal champions to review and revise them in line with changing client expectations.

Client expectations change over time as do your staff, so to stay F.I.I.T. test your firm’s client service experience annually.

To find out more about client experience training programs, contact Carl White or join one of our free monthly webinars on Client Experience Excellence.

About Carl White

Passionate about the impact of Client Experience Excellence in professional services, Carl White co-authored the highly-regarded ‘Customer Experience in Law’ report in 2012 and led the market-leading Australian research in 2015 that examines the Client Experience Advantage for law firms, in association with ALPMA.