TM Group’s ‘Home Moving Trends Survey’ report set the tone for 2015, showing how solicitors need to react to the ever-increasing demands that consumers place upon them. Continuing on this theme, Lexis Nexis have recently released their annual Bellwether report, ‘The Age of the Client’ which explores how independent law firms and sole practitioners are responding to a new breed of client.
With TM Group’s research featuring the opinions of more than 4500 home movers and Lexis Nexis’ report being comprised of lawyers’ opinions & private clients, we wanted to see if there was a disconnect between the legal perspective of the market to that of the consumer.
The race to the bottom
In this year’s Bellwether report, Lexis Nexis found that one of the chief concerns occupying lawyers’ thoughts is the idea that they need to compete with their cheaper competitors. In the chapter, ‘The Challenges keep on coming’, Lexis Nexis identify one of the trends that was teased out from the interviews with solicitors:
“The economy may be recovering, but the recession has produced a more demanding and value-conscious client. As low-cost competitors enter the market, retaining clients is seen as a challenge by almost six out of ten lawyers.”
However, TM Group’s recent survey of consumers showed that there is probably little to worry about.
It was revealed in the Home Moving Trends Survey 2014 that just 1 in 10 consumers chose the cheapest conveyancer and that, actually, most people were motivated by the solicitor’s ability to demonstrate professionalism, expertise and trustworthiness.
In fact, no matter which way you cut it – by age group, region, house price – nearly everyone agreed that you get what you pay for.
This will be heart-warming news for anxious lawyers.
Having spoken with senior partners at various law firms, it seems that many already understand this; they are adamant that they’re not going to be caught in a race to the bottom.
Setting out to market your firm on service rather than price can be a daunting approach and sometimes goes against what might seem to be intuitive commerciality.
But Lexis Nexis do offer an alternative approach for conveyancers drowning in a sea of cheap fees:
“More firms are going to have to become more specialised, because there are all these competitors who can do the bog-standard work. That’s how you differentiate yourself – by being able to do the more complex work that they can’t do.”
Another finding from the Lexis Nexis Bellwether report was that 6 out of 10 lawyers saw ‘retaining clients’ as a challenge.
Historically, one of the main sources of revenue for a law firm was from returning customers and it can be much more effective to cross-sell other services from around the firm to existing clients than to try and win new ones.
The Home Moving Trends survey this year indicated that this is still the case with around a third of home movers returning to their previous conveyancer but clearly the other two-thirds of clients must come from other areas – with recommendations from third parties and friends & family found to be key drivers.
So how do you increase repeat business?
An unexciting answer but ‘Customer Service’ – capital letters intended.
A flawless customer experience should be your main priority and, if anything should go wrong, it’s how you deal with the problems that can set you apart from your competitors.
Gone are the days when solicitors can simply take down a client’s information in a ledger in a face-to-face meeting to get started and then give them a call only when something interesting happens.
In the modern day and age, clients may not even get the opportunity to meet with you face-to-face so it’s important to explain at the outset of the transaction exactly how and how often you will be contacting them.
Indeed, in this year’s Home Moving Trends Survey, it was revealed that three quarters of respondents (72%) want to be updated at least once a week, if not more, even if there is not necessarily anything to report. A quote from one solicitor in the Bellwether report concurs:
“My expectation is what my clients expect of me. In this digital era, I respond back even if I don’t have the answer as yet, so they know it’s being sorted out.”
Furthermore, as we are all well aware, moving can be a stressful time with home movers often having to juggle the typical demands of everyday life. It is therefore no surprise to see that email (57%) is favoured over the immediacy of the telephone (38%), allowing clients the time to absorb information and formulate a response or reply outside of working hours.
For further insights from more than 4500 consumers, download the full report.