Every year client research is conducted by the Law Firm Marketing Club to help law firm partners and marketers understand how clients decide who to engage. CEO Clare Fanner shares its findings.
Before asking how clients like to interact with firms, we asked a scene-setting question: what could law firms do to make it easy for you to find and select the best one for your needs? The top three ‘wants’, in order, are clearer communication, service and pricing.
Clients don’t make decisions in a vacuum. They apply their broader experiences, gathered during the pandemic, which forced older clients into online banking and Zoom meetings, and many SMEs onto online accountancy platforms amongst others. Not always welcomed at the time, many changes are now positively accepted.
The good news is that recommendations from professionals (83%) and family and friends (78%) remain important to clients. Legal directories continue to be relevant to business clients (71%). As with pretty much every other purchase that they make, clients are also using review sites, so the opinions of past clients are important (78%).
Those who have no experience of using a law firm express the importance of a firm being ranked highly on Google (67%).
While review sites provide a view of the firm, clients will also conduct their research specific to their needs. A strong website including lawyer profiles and CVs matter (86%), description of your services (92%), as are examples of how you have helped clients (79%) and even photos of relevant lawyers (52%). Most of these are just hygiene factors and simple to implement, so even if just half of clients’ think a photo is important, it may be the deciding factor for a prospect.
Working from home and Zoom meetings are now firmly established. Research showed that fewer than 20% of clients expect lawyers to work from the office.
But while clients don’t mind where you work, 84% still want access to their lawyer in person and 81% want you to be in close physical proximity to where they live or work.
Phone and email are ranked as important by over 80% of clients. Those under 30 are less keen on using email, at 62%. We saw a significant shift in preferences for ‘new’ channels. Under 30s are keen on video conferencing (61%) and using the likes of WhatsApp (49%).
it is very clear that clients are expecting more technology-enhanced services. For example, 80% of clients who have used a law firm in the last 12 months expect to see the progress of cases using technology (70% of all respondents).
We asked the open question: “When dealing with a law firm which three words best describe your most recent experience?” Two words stood out: professional and expensive. Good, easy and efficient featured prominently.
For most firms, improving service should not be too difficult. Your clients are not demanding better legal advice, just improved accessibility.
91% of clients expect websites to give an indication of pricing. In practice a straightforward exercise – you know your rates. You need to have a cohesive, clear and understandable pricing strategy on your website. This requires some thought to meet the needs of the clients whilst also remaining true to how you charge for your legal services.
When digesting this research, consider how you have changed your expectations regarding other providers of goods and services.
Ask yourself if you are using your technology to best advantage. Update your website and social media profiles for key individuals. Elevate your front-line team for fielding clients. Empower everyone in the firm to be client-centric. Plan for the clients of the future and develop a technology strategy to deliver your services and stay true to your business model.
Finally, conduct your own research and ask your clients what they want.
Clare Fanner, CEO, The Law Firm Marketing Club
For a copy of the report and all the data, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about the Law Firm Marketing Club please visit www.lawfirmmarketingclub.com