When you went to university, did you do a subject called “client experience”? I’ll bet you didn’t.
I’ll also bet that you didn’t get spoken to about it when you graduated.
Or when you got admitted as a lawyer.
And, in fact, probably until you read this article you haven’t considered it at all, right?
Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ve had a conversation about client service. But that’s a different thing.
It’s time to change all that. It’s time to think about your client’s experience.
What is Client Experience?
It’s the totalilty. It’s the complete package. It’s the everything. Makes no sense yet?
Client experience starts with the first phone call, email or visit.
It’s the manner in which their enquiry is addressed.
It’s the the way in which they are funneled through to a lawyer to talk to. It’s the follow up from the lawyer after that. It’s the way the matter is opened, and the formal documents delivered to them.
Client experience is how their legal issues are addressed. It’s how their fees are invoiced, and paid. It’s how the matter is closed, and it’s the legal advice they receive and how they receive it.
Hopefully I’m filling in the blanks.
In essence, every interaction between you, your firm, and your client forms part of the client experience.
But have you ever turned your mind to the big picture? Have you ever actually sat back and wondered what “being a client” is like, from start to finish? Most lawyers haven’t, and as a result they are missing out on important perspective.
Start with a Picture
If you’re going to actually turn your mind to this (and you should) then I suggest you start with a picture.
Draw a map of a client. How do they come to your firm? What happens next? Then what next?
Be specific, not general. Did they read an ad in Yellow Pages? Did they see your firm on LinkedIn? Are they an existing client with a new matter?
For immediate purposes don’t look at every path and nuance, just create an “avatar” – the most likely persona of a client that’s going to end up in your hands. Let’s call her Jane. Make Jane a real person, not a dummy. Give her a life, experiences, and a background. What does she like? What does she dislike? This (slightly silly) step is important because it really allows you to get into the nitty gritty of client experience. You see, real people have experiences – fake people do not. So make Jane real.
Your picture will be complex. I expect that it will have details, and many steps.
And it’s going to blow your mind just how many interactions every single client has with your firm from the moment they make first contact.
Because each and every interaction is an opportunity to impress Jane. Or not.
Forget What you Can’t Influence
If you’re going to start thinking about client experience then no matter where you work you’re going to find some things that aren’t satisfactory.
Perhaps your receptionist’s phone manner is rude? Perhaps the type of coffee your firm gets isn’t that good. Perhaps your meeting rooms need some new furniture?
Unless you’re a senior lawyer with some authority to influence these things, then you are going to have to file some of your considerations away for later.
Focus on What you Can
What parts of the picture are you involved in, or can you be involved in?
Are they as good as they could be? If you were the client – how would you feel after each experience?
This is where it gets interesting – because if you CAN influence parts of the map for the better, then you need to think about HOW.
If Jane doesn’t like X, do you need to make X better, or does X need to be binned in favour of Y? Does Jane prefer email, or phone? Does Jane dress up, or casually? Would your wearing a suit make Jane feel confident in you, or just uncomfortable? What time of day suits Jane to be in touch with you? Is Jane sophisticated, or not – and how does that influence her experience with your firm?
This is where it gets tricky. Despite the fact that you have used Jane as your example, not every client will be like Jane.
So your method of improvement, although focused on making Jane happy for the moment, needs to be indicative, rather than prescriptive. It needs to be fluid, and emphathetic.
A set of rigid rules will be silly. A set of guiding principles would be wise.
What’s the Goal?
So you’ve drawn a picture of Jane’s experience, and you’ve thought about how Jane can go from her current experience to a better one.
But what’s the point?
The point is this: you want to be remark-able.
You want Jane to leave every experience with your firm, go home, and tell the next 5 people that she sees how amazing it is that she’s dealing with you and your firm. You want Jane to get on Facebook and over the next 10 years every time somebody asks if anyone knows a lawyer with experience in X, she thinks of YOU.
You want Jane to become an advocate – for you.
And that’s what thinking about client experience will get you. You will become now just another legal service provider – you will become remarkable.
How can you tweak your client experience, starting today?