I’m a cynic, so usually read industry reports published by industry providers with a huge pinch of salt, but every now and then you get an exception to the rule. So is the case with BigHand’s recently published ‘The Legal Pricing & Budgeting Report’, which is full of really insightful information (so read it!).
Here are my 10 take-outs (NA = North America and UK = UK):-
To the surprising:
To some obvious:
And some knowns:
With a few, “What the?” (as in, only…)
With a great conclusion:
As I said, as a rule I don’t recommended reading these types of reports as they typically are a waste of time; but this is one I have no problem saying “go read it!” – and if you have any thoughts/comments, post them in the comments section below!
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:-
Care and Connection
Trust and Honesty
Price and Value
Experience and Expertise
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:-
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Overall it’s an interesting read and probably worth 45 or so minutes of your time (lots of graphics should mean it won’t take that much longer of your time), but it was the last section on ‘Five simple steps to transform your firm’ (which funny enough has very few graphics) that really grabbed my attention. I thought they were useful tips/insights to keep in mind, so I thought I would share them here:
Assess where your firm demonstrates value to clients – understanding where you provide value to a client will inform how you create a sustainable business model.
Implement innovative practices – finding opportunities where you can innovate processes within firms will keep it competitive over the long-term.
Harness the power of data and analytics – having a better knowledge of where your firm spends its time will help in understanding where potential client value can be added.
Construct, and embrace an employee value proposition – having a central purpose will go a long way towards unifying four generations of employees at very different stages of their careers.
Embrace diversity and inclusion – bringing a variety of perspectives to your firm will help in retaining your team at a time when loyalty is at premium.
Take a look at the report – let me know if you don’t agree with any of these or if you have any you would add, and enjoy your week!
As far as I’m aware, Apple has never allowed retailers to discount (or have any other say in) its products pricing.
As far as I have understood it, Apple’s rational for this because it has always insisted that it – and it alone – has complete control over its pricing.
Why is this important?
In short, because while you will see retailers heavily discounting every other computer software and hardware manufacturers’ products during this year’s EOFY (lockdown) sales, no such offer is made on Apple products.
You don’t see red ink on Apple product price tags.
So what can law firms learn from this approach?
Always understand the value you provide to your clients