The bar is low. Despite tremendous progress in the past 20 years, law firms continue to lag behind their clients’ industries and other professional service firms when it comes to innovation, client experience and client engagement. Again and again, we hear law firm clients say the attorneys and law firms that stand out from the pack:
- Do what they say they will do
- Manage expectations
- Comply with basic outside counsel policies and guidelines and generally follow instructions
- Listen and communicate effectively
- Successfully collaborate with the internal law firm team, the client team and other service providers (Reality check – many clients call law firms vendors)
- Make recommendations in addition to providing rationale and options
- Proactively provide advice, estimates and AFAs
- “Look around the corner” to help prevent potential problems
- Spend client money as if it were their own
- Make their lives easier and make them look good
Like I said, the bar is low. There is little said ever about law firms standing out from the pack by demonstrating remarkable creativity, offering groundbreaking innovation or emanating genuine empathy. In order to do that, you have to really know what your firm’s clients value the most and how high or low a bar your firm is setting with every single client touch.
While customer experience is a relatively new function to many businesses, it’s definitely growing. There are currently 4000+ members of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, or CXPA, a professional organization providing networking and education for this entirely new field of expertise. And yet there are only 10 representatives from the legal industry represented in that membership, and only one is a Chief Client Experience Officer in a law firm.
On May 23-24, 2017, I’ll be participating in the Client Experience in Professional Services Conference in Durham, NC, to network and share best practices with client experience experts from engineering, construction, environmental, architectural, design and financial service firms. There is still space available for law firm participants, so register here for a dynamic and fun program.
And finally, participants at the upcoming LMA CMO Summit will walk through a client journey mapping exercise to learn how other companies are thoughtfully and methodically mapping each and every touch point and feeling along their customers’ journeys with their products, services and people.
Don’t let the current low bar fool your firm into thinking that times aren’t changing. Your clients are expecting a higher level of client service from all outside counsel, which means you have to listen and really put yourselves in their shoes, minds and hearts. That is how the firms of the future will be armed with the knowledge and empathy to create greater client loyalty and capture market share. And if you’re unsure of how to start raising the bar, any of the above offerings are a good place to begin.