Client Experience – how do we make it the best we can?

Well, I wish I could bottle this just like I’d love to bottle time.  They’d both be worthwhile and surely make me a millionaire!

Vernon Hill, founder of Metro Bank, says there are 3 primary elements to creating a great brand in his “Fans not Customers” book.  These are:

  • Differentiated model
  • Pervasive culture
  • Fanatical execution

For my mind, a firm’s (talking law firm specifically as that’s my challenge currently but please don’t let that put you off reading more) ability to deliver excellent client experience is a clear differentiator and should be seen as their “differentiated model” in the above structure.   Delivering on this in light of recent reports would definitely set you apart from others.

Common perceptions of lawyers (still) seem to be along the lines of:

  • Lawyers don’t communicate clearly or concisely – they love speaking the legal language and hearing themselves talk
  • Lawyers don’t keep the client informed. The client doesn’t get to know what is happening through the process
  • Lawyers over-lawyer.  Their incentive is to bill as much as possible
  • Lawyers have poor listening skills – they interrupt clients, play with their phones and take calls in the middle of conversations
  • Lawyer’s fees are through the roof – overheads are simply passed on to their clients
  • Lawyers are unresponsive and don’t seem to care about the client

Bit harsh?  A generalisation yes, but not sure its all that harsh.    If nothing else these perceptions should act as a reference point to remind firms (and individuals) of what they should not be doing.

Perception is everything – we need to see the world from our client’s point of view to truly make a difference to them.  So what can we do to create the right perception?

I suggest there are a number of elements which need to be considered together which will provide a structure by which perception can change.

  • Accessibility
  • Rapport
  • Proactive use of knowledge
  • Process efficiency
  • Responsiveness
  • Positive Attitude
  • Clarity
  • Transparency
  • Outcome focused

So, how can this be done?  By building an overall client experience strategy to help shape the client service vision and plan delivery against the plan.  To do this a number of steps are required to get you to this stage:

  • Assess current service gaps – be honest and objective with assessments including using independent support.
  • Define the service aspiration – and be specific. Think about the quality of the service, the accuracy of service, promptness of response, client satisfaction, people attitude and behaviours.  What do you want the experience to be on every level and in every situation?
  • Design the client journey,  map it out in detail and develop a standards programme.  Involve clients and the team in developing these standards, state the standards clearly,  document them and ensure they are all linked back to the company goals.  Don’t forget to check them off against the gap analysis to ensure all the gaps are filled and give the standards and programme the full support of the management team.  Managers need to take accountability for the achievement of these standards so make sure they are involved.
  • Once the standards are established, design a culture in which deviation from the standards becomes unacceptable.  Easy to say and very hard to deliver, yes but cracking this will make it happen.  And this can only come from your people, how they feel and how they truly believe this will work for them and their clients.
  • Produce standards that are clear, concise, measurable and achievable.  Make sure you then report on these standards and that they become part of the fabric of the way the business is run (KPI’s).

People development along with recruitment goes without saying….

Over the last 12 months or so we seem to have become much more focused on the impact technology for example will have on the way that we work – embracing that change to make our service better, more competitive etc.  Yet at the same time it’s important to remember through all of this that the service we deliver to clients whether through our people or technology has to work for them.  If clients do not feel the benefit of the developments we make as an industry, firm or individual then they will still continue to look for someone who will.    Technology is a part of how we build our perception but its not the be all and end all – a fully formed, structured and planned client experience strategy will create the perception and differentiated model our clients are looking for.

 

 

 

 

Strategy and Strategists – do we need both?

Not so long ago I attended a conference focused almost exclusively in the future impacts for law firms.  One of the speakers was a specialist in innovation and future thinking; and the resulting presentation was both fascinating and bordering on the scary!

The session centred on futures and what we need to know to be able to understand the future and how we can best plan to get the most out of it.

Two of his key messages were:

Firstly, as Douglas Adams (yes, of Hitchhikers fame) said “anything invented after you’re 35 is against your order of things”.  Yep, apparently after that age we are less able to embrace or even look to instigate change.  I was hoping for a little bit older of be honest…..

Secondly, as Charles Handy (organisational and social development guru) has said “change can take a long time to come but when it does it can be rapid”.  And there is a whole series of episodes across history that illustrate these lulls and then high pace of change – and research suggests we are in the midst of such a period as they usually closely follow a period of recession.

Carlota Perez describes these periods as 5 technological revolutions that have taken place where there is a first phase of development which is closely followed by a bubble or period of disruption or major upheaval.  Then from this downturn stage there is born a “golden age” of technological development.  And looking at the last of these revolutions suggests we could be on the cusp of our next golden age.

What will this bring, what do we need to do and how will we respond?

This is where a Strategist might help within your business.

Traditionally a Strategist or Chief Strategy Officer had responsibility for creating the strategic plan for a 1 – 3 year period.  Nowadays this isn’t enough – this is now a normal function for the business and the value a Strategist can provide is to stretch much further beyond an annual planning process and into the realm of really understanding the external environment, what developments are much further down the line and the impacts these can create both positively and negatively for the business.

Whilst fighting my fears when we explored the glory of AI and the opportunity it brings to our workplace I stopped to question myself – “surely things like this are just for the big boys in the major technology space?”.   Whilst it probably suited me to think this I was quickly brought back into reality when speaking to the lady next to me who works at a similar sized firm nearby who explained to me they employ a Strategist specifically to keep the Board thinking and planning for the future.

Food for thought? Absolutely.

If nothing else your business depends on being competitive  – and if others are ahead of you in this area and nothing else, they are ahead of you and this can’t be good for your business.

Anyone know a Strategist?

 

 

 

Mojo – where did you go?

This weekend I took a really big step forward – literally!  I rediscovered my running mojo.

Just over 12 months ago I ruptured my achilles tendon which resulted in 12 weeks with my leg  in plaster or a Beckham boot.  A difficult time for all involved……

Before the injury I had been a committed runner, having run a couple of marathons and being a serious late in life running evangelist.  I loved the thinking space, I came up with my best ideas when running, and I loved the fresh air in my lungs running on the hills.  And I loved the challenge to run further and faster.

Having waved good bye to my boot a good few months ago now I found I’d lost my running mojo.  Although I could remember all the good things I enjoyed when running, those feelings for some reason just weren’t strong enough to get me out on those hills again.

Whilst one calf is half the size of the other I’m clearly not as fit as I was but still in better shape than when I’d first starting running so this couldn’t be the total problem.

But does analysing the problem actually help with finding the solution?

Shouldn’t I just simply focus on the practical steps to move forward?

So, that’s what I did.

Instead of continually questioning why I wasn’t desperate to go out running again I started to take more practical steps to see if that would work.   It happens – all runners suffer from their mental block, their lack of mojo, their dampened desire to run.  After an injury it’s pretty obvious it’s more likely to happen but it can happen at any time – suddenly busier at work, a couple of weekends with big nights out – and before you know it the momentum is lost.

I bought some new trainers.  Some lovely new trainers that didn’t cost the earth but that I wanted to wear.

The sun was shining – I obviously can’t take credit for making that happen but it certainly helped my motivation.

And I went running with my boy – we chatted and laughed and we had fun together for half an hour and I ran further than I thought I would.  I ran happy!

My mojo is back.

I’m aching all over, but my mojo is back and I’m looking forward to running and re-building both my leg, my confidence and my fitness.

Now, all I need to do is to move on to my work mojo……………..

Wish me luck!

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