3 simple steps towards excellent client centricity in law firms

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3 simple steps towards excellent client centricity in law firms

3 Simple Steps towards Excellent Client Centricity in Law Firms

This pragmatic hands-on guide will help you to quickly discover and harness untapped potentials in your clients’ journey in a structured manner. If you improve your legal services as suggested you will be able to gain a significant competitive edge, boost revenue, and reduce operational costs within a few weeks.

The guide is inspired by the design sprint and value stream mapping method. I applied and improved the suggested 3 step model when working with law firms as a Legal Tech entrepreneur and consultant. It addresses law firms that want to innovate legal services in their portfolio rather than developing new legal services.

Become your Client’s Superhero! 🦸🏼‍♀

What do Apple and Tesla, the biggest technology company and the fastest-growing automaker in the world, have in common? They excel in offering products that people love and, more importantly, reinventing how customers interact with their products and services. Easing or even reducing the tasks customers have to perform is key to a great customer experience.

The iPhone and AppStore have changed the way we use cellphones drastically. Being equipped with an iPhone you bid farewell to take a camera, purse, or computer. Many tasks of your daily life can be easily carried out with only one small device in your pocket. If you are a Tesla owner, there is no need to go to the workshop for updates or rigid maintenance intervals anymore. Even core features of your car like the performance or autonomous driving capabilities can be upgraded over the air. The competitive edge of these two companies could only be gained because of diving deep into customer jobs and journeys and constantly challenging the status quo.

Does your law firm harness the power of improving your client journey and easing clients’ jobs? How do you interact with clients? What do they value the most? What is the ultimate differentiator in your practice area? Questions along these lines should be your top priority if you want to stick out in the highly competitive legal market.

Differentiators of Law Firms (BTI 2020)

A survey of 20.000 buyers of legal services from BTI indicates that the most important differentiators are the ability to deal with complexity and to deliver uniformity of services. Besides that, the understanding of the client’s business and a client focus are important differentiators. However, most of the Law firms seem to struggle to understand client needs as many studies and surveys indicate.

The following 3 steps will help you facilitate legal innovation and gain a competitive edge by improving your customer-centricity like the aforementioned tech champions.

#1 Map Clients’ Jobs & Needs✍️

Who is your ideal client persona? Have you ever mapped your client’s interaction with your legal services? Do you measure client satisfaction? Do you challenge your offering regularly? If not, I promise you that there is a lot of untapped potential in increasing your reputation, gain more clients and get more mandates from existing clients.

If you want to improve the client experience of your legal services, you need to access the status quo first. Identify your ideal client and map their jobs and needs as depicted in the graph below that depicts a result of a mapping workshop. Just start with one legal service or a part of the legal service. Do not get overwhelmed by transforming your entire firm at once. Depending on your practice area and client’s industry the map can look different from this example.

Exemplary map of a client journey

Now you can easily identify the biggest potentials for improving client experience by mirroring your firm's support and the client’s jobs.

#2 Simplify or Substitute Clients’ Jobs 🤝

You should now start to ideate how you can ease the client’s journey by simplifying or substituting customer jobs. Firstly, focus on the jobs where customers invest most of the time or where they perceive a strong pain due to other reasons. It is recommended to develop the solutions in a team (Partners, Associates, Assistants, IT department).

How clients perceive collaboration with lawyers (Twitter)

Concrete measures to ease client jobs for the aforementioned example could be to provide clients access to a shared document, where they can annotate comments. That way, clients (and your firm) save time for not sending emails forth and back or not searching the latest version anymore.

Besides improving communication efficiency another low-hanging fruit could be to provide clients a quick check to access if they need a lawyer for their legal problem. Such an improvement would not only mean a win for your customer but you can also efficiently qualify (see BANT) the prospect and maybe cut down an intro call to half the time.

Another win-win solution could be to provide clients an easy solution to share your company info or social media profile via links on your homepage or company documents. That way they would save time when referring you to others — and you increase the chances for a recommendation.

Exemplary client journey with top 3 solutions of the ideation phase

A more radical transformation could be to move from an hourly billed business model to fixed prices. Regarding the graph that would mean switching process steps (e.g. payment gets one of the first elements of the client journey). Before starting such a massive transformation process you should prototype the new service and get it challenged by interviewing at least 5 clients. You can find more detailed information on how to prototype and test new products or services in the Book Sprint of Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz.

#3 Measure Client Satisfaction📈

You can only evaluate the success of the implemented process improvements by measuring Key Performance Indicators (KPI) regularly. You might access KPI for firm operations, business development, and intake or general performance. Your most important KPI should be client satisfaction though. If you make it your KPI number one, revenues will increase and costs will sink as a consequence. As explained in step #2 increasing client satisfaction often also means efficiency wins for your firm. Furthermore, satisfied clients will recommend you to their network and bring more revenue — without spending a single Euro for advertisement.

If you make client satisfaction your KPI number one, revenues will increase and costs will sink as a consequence

If you are just starting to set up a KPI system for client satisfaction, you might want to assess the Net Promoter Score (NPS) at the end of each matter. It tells you how likely clients would recommend you to their network. This is not just an important measure to access client satisfaction. A great NPS also indicates that clients would choose your firm again and that you can generate more intake through referrals.

Besides the NPS, you should track KPIs that help you to access if the measures you have implemented to ease customer jobs were successful. For example, tracking the number of prospects when launching a whitepaper landing page is a good way to measure the impact of that action.

Keep Iterating 🔁

The process of achieving client centricity is a never-ending story. Keep your customer journey “up-to-date”, carry out regular workshops and establish continuous improvement methods (Kaizen, PDCA) to stay ahead of the competition.