Features & Analysis

What your clients want

From ease of access to pricing transparency, Clare Fanner, CEO of The Law Firm Marketing Club discusses the latest expectations that customers contemplate when entering into a partnership with a law firm.

Every year law firm client research is conducted by the Law Firm Marketing Club to help law firm partners and marketers understand how clients decide who to engage with.

Clients compare

Before asking how clients like to interact with firms, we asked a scene setting question: what could law firms do to make it easy for you to find and select the best one for your needs? The top three ‘wants’, in order, were Clearer Communication, Service and Pricing.

Clients don’t make decisions in a vacuum. They apply their broader experiences – gathered during the pandemic, which forced older clients into online banking and Zoom, and many SMEs onto online accountancy platforms amongst others. Not always welcomed at the time, many changes are now positively accepted.

The good news is that recommendations from professionals (83%) and from family and friends (78%) remain important to clients. Legal directories continue to be relevant to business clients (71%). As with pretty much every other purchase that they make, clients are also using review sites, so the opinions of past clients are important (78%). Those who have no experience of using a law firm express the importance of a firm being ranked highly on Google (67%).

While review sites provide a view on the firm, clients will also conduct their own granular research, specific to their needs. A strong website including lawyer profiles and CVs matter (86%), description of your services (92%) as are examples of how you have helped clients (79%) and even photos of relevant lawyers (52%). Most of these are just hygiene factors and simple to implement, so even if just half of clients think a photo is important, it may be the deciding factor for a prospect.

Communications

Working from Home and Zoom are now firmly established. Research showed that fewer than 20% of clients expect lawyers to work from the office.

But while clients don’t mind where you work, 84% still want access to their lawyer in person and 81% want you to be in close physical proximity to where they live or work.

Be aware of changing attitude to communication channels

Phone and email are ranked as important by over 80% of clients. Those under 30 are less keen on using email, at 62%.

We saw a significant shift in preferences for ‘new’ channels. Under 30’s are keener on video conferencing (61%) and using the likes of WhatsApp (49%).

Technology

It is very clear that clients are expecting more technology enhanced services.
For example, 80% of clients who have used a law firm in the last 12 months expect to see the progress of cases using technology (70% of all respondents).

Service

We asked an open question: “When dealing with a law firm, which three words best describe your most recent experience?” Two words stood out: professional and expensive. Good, easy and efficient features prominently.

For most firms, improving service should not be too difficult. Your clients are not demanding better legal advice, just improved accessibility.

Pricing transparency

91% of clients expect websites to give an indication of pricing. In practice a straightforward exercise – you know your rates. You need to have a cohesive, clear and understandable pricing strategy on your website. This requires some thought to meet the needs of the clients whilst also remaining true to how you charge for your legal services.

Action points for firms

When digesting this research, consider how you – personally – have changed your expectations regarding other providers of goods and services.

Ask yourself if you are using your technology to the best advantage. Update your website and social media profiles for key individuals. Elevate your front-line team for fielding clients. Empower everyone in the firm to be client centric. Plan for the clients of the future and develop a technology strategy to deliver your services and stay true to your business model.

Finally, conduct your own research and ask your clients what they want.

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