Customer Loyalty Program

‘5 Tips to deliver exceptional client services’

The Legal Marketing Association (LMA)’s Strategies + Voices blog has some great insights into what clients’ value in a recent post (16 September 2021) – ‘5 tips to deliver exceptional client service’ by Natasha Tucker.

The post starts out by stating that:

the tips shared are based on internal client feedback interviews and discussions conducted by the author with companies in the oil and gas, chemicals, banking and telecommunications industries in North America.

And the 5 ‘tips’ are:-

  1. Care and Connection
  2. Trust and Honesty
  3. Price and Value
  4. Experience and Expertise
  5. Team and Resourcing

I’l go on record as saying I thought Tucker’s post was excellent. It turned my mind, however, to whether we in Australia would consider the same criteria as being critical to the delivery of exceptional client service?

So here are my thoughts:

  1. Care and Connection – absolutely spot on. Here in Australia this would come under the banner of ‘responsiveness’, but many of the points Tucker makes are echoed in Australia.
  2. Trust and Honesty – I would say this is a given here in Australia and not really talked about too much. Which is to say, in my experience, clients here don’t see trust and honesty as playing a big part in the perception of excellent client service delivery – because without it, you ain’t my law firm!
  3. Price and Value – I struggled with this one because clearly price is important. And many would argue it is critical to the perception that the client has received good value. But here’s the thing, in Australia ‘price’ is an after-fact – the lawyer’s invoice comes after the deal is completed. So while price certainly plays a retrospective role in whether the client received exceptional client service, it is not a real time barometer – the client could believe they were getting excellent service until they receive the invoice and see how much they paid for that service! So I’m going to disagree with this one.
  4. Experience and Expertise – again, I think this is increasingly a ‘given’ here in Australia. Sure it will have some effect on the delivery of client service, but the cases where it does will largely be the 1 to 2% of ‘top-end’ matters.
  5. Team and resourcing – absolutely critical.

Noting that it is easy to be critical without being helpful, here are a couple of issues that I see as being of increasing importance in the delivery of exceptional client service here in Australia:-

  1. Technology – increasingly clients want your technology to talk to their technology. If they want a Teams meeting and you say your internal systems only allow you to do Zoom meetings, they get frustrated. They are not getting exception client service. Likewise, while ‘client portals’ were all the rage 10 years ago, clients today want this information delivered in their tech echo-system and do not want to have to log-on to your platform to access this.
  2. Process – linked somewhat to technology, clients today look for clear processes from their firms. For example, large institutional clients want one bill per month – not 20 different bills for each of the various internal service lines in your firm that may have acted on their matters. Process however extends to other areas, such as Legal Project Managers, Client Account Managers – so-called ‘non-lawyers’ who can keep the lawyers honest and on track.
  3. Values – increasingly clients want to work with law firms who share their values, and they see this as part of the client service delivery. For example, if the client is passionate about the environment and your law firm doesn’t have a stance on this issue, then you’re likely going to have some issues. In short, in my view, the days of firms saying what they stand for has nothing to do with the service they provide are over – what you stand for is very much a part of the service you deliver in 2021!
  4. Mentorship – clients have always enjoyed working with law firms that are able to mentor the in-house team. What’s changed is that these days this is a formal – out in the open – discussion; and it includes the tough discussion about how law firms manage their own internal mentorship, staff wellbeing and overall happiness.
  5. Retained knowledge – this is a critical one to me. Most law firms have worked with clients for longer periods than the in-house legal team has. Their time with the client either pre-dates the creation of an in-house team or else General Counsel at the in-house team has moved on and that information has been lost. I cannot over emphasis therefore how important private practice law firms can be as the font of knowledge (for legal matters) for their client. But here’s the thing, at this level you are commercial confidants and so relying on legal conflicts as the rationale as to why you can act against a client will sure as Hell kill and perception of ‘exceptional client service’!

As always, the above represent my own thoughts and would love to hear yours in the comments below.


This week’s photo credit is to Rohan Makhecha on Unsplash

Medibank Idea Exchange

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For my sins I am a member of Medibank Private Health Insurance. I understand it has something to do with having a young family and the Medicare rebate. Anyhow, regardless the reason I get a lot of emails from Medibank that have always gone to straight to my trash folder. That is, until this morning.

What makes this morning any different? Well, I received an email inviting me to join the Medibank Idea Exchange community. In part wondering why they were suggesting the singular rather than the plural, I thought I would take a look.

What did I find?

Well, while I have no intention of joining, what I found was an offer to join an ‘invite only’ community where I will be able to share my thoughts and ideas on a variety of different topics and issues and:

  • Contribute to discussions and surveys – so you can tell Medibank what you think and help shape future business decisions,
  • Talk with other members – so you can share experiences and handy tips,
  • Earn rewards for participating – that you can redeem on a great range of products and services.

and I thought to myself: “there might be something in this for law firms to learn from“.


Loyalty programs revisited

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Back in March of this year I blogged that loyalty programs were likely an under-utilised means by which Australian law firms could differentiate themselves in a highly competitive legal market. I was, then, particularly happy to see that recently Australian Government Business ( blogged  on a similar issue – ‘Customer loyalty or reward programs‘ – which looked at, among other things:

  • What customer loyalty programs are.
  • The benefits and risks of a customer loyalty program.
  • Tips when implementing a customer loyalty program.
  • Legal and compliance issues for customer loyalty programs.

A lot of which is directly relevant to law firms looking to implement a customer loyalty program.

Why you should think of implementing a customer loyalty program in your firm

As far as law firms are concerned, the perennial question has been:

How do we make sure that our customers [clients] understand the benefits of being exclusive to our brand?

Here, while we have known for a long time now that the ‘customer experience‘ has been the bedrock of customer loyalty, it has only been in recent times that we have been able to show that loyalty programs can, and do, add to this overall customer experience.

But customer experience isn’t the only reason why law firms need to think carefully about implementing a loyalty program. Other benefits include:

  • gaining a better understanding of the customer buying behaviour – which practice groups are they using, when, how often, why? Are they using more than one partner in a practice group or the same partner?
  • increase you brand recognition within your existing customer base – putting in place a formal loyalty program should go some way to helping you promote you law firm internally within your client’s business; if for no other reason than water-cooler chat.
  • increase your word of mouth referrals.
  • provides an added incentive for clients to give you work rather than a like skilled and experienced firm (i.e., all things being equal).
  • can be used to help recognise referrers to the firm – if you include referrers in the program, all things being equal they will more likely refer clients to your firm than a competitor.
  • it can help you implement formal and informal customer listening and feedback programs (as part of the program offering).
  • it will help members of your firm get to know who your key customers are and what they do.
  • it should provide your firm with a platform to cross pollenate into other service areas without looking like a hard sell.

You could also find that putting a customer loyalty program in place leads to greater use of your much underutilised CRM systems!

All that said, a word of caution for those who are intending to implement a customer loyalty program in their firm:

  • customer loyalty marketing must start with the law firm demonstrating loyalty to the client. Much like the trust it is built on, you cannot expect loyalty from your client if you are unwilling to offer the same type of loyalty to your client,
  • the foundation of a customer loyalty program is a promise. If for any reason whatsoever you are unable to fulfil on that promise, then you shouldn’t implement the program, and
  • always keep in mind that while the lawyer inevitably gets the credit when things go well, it is the brand that gets the blame when things go wrong – so make sure that at the heart of you customer loyalty program is always a dialogue between you and your client.

Get it right though and a well implemented and executed customer loyalty program could be just he thing your firm need in order to differentiate itself from the market.