How can you be innovative with your legal services to exceed your client’s expectations?
I’m not sure, let’s Google it.
The first article tells us to identify clients’ expectations, manage clients’ expectations and exceed clients’ expectations. That’s a great help. The next article challenges whether the clients’ expectations are realistic and offers suggestions on how to be transparent and over-explain and gently reshape their expectations where necessary. That’s not helpful. The third article suggests you find out your client’s expectations early on, restructure their hopes whenever and wherever necessary and temper your expectations regarding your clients. Urgh!
This information is telling me that the Google results, and the people who create the content that Google uses, don’t have a very high opinion of legal services.
That’s pretty embarrassing.
It’s time to prove them wrong. Let’s be innovative.
In our articles Identifying the Current Inefficiencies in Your Legal Services and Challenging Your Ideas About Client Expectations, we considered how the time costs in your legal services create inefficiencies for you and your client and how to identify what your practice’s target client expects from your legal services.
The key here is your client. Providing legal services is not about you. It’s about providing a service for your client that helps your client. Let’s try transforming your services to suit the needs of your target client and exceed your client’s expectations.
What that looks like for you and your practice will be different from other lawyers and their practices. You are unique. The innovative way you provide your legal services will be unique too. Be inspired by the innovation you see in the legal industry. But don’t copy what others are doing. Be you.
Who is your practice’s target client, and what do they expect from your legal services? If you’re not sure, have a look at our article Challenging Your Ideas About Client Expectations. Let’s say that your target client is a small business owner who is starting a consulting business. They have chosen to work remotely and part-time around the needs of their family. They’ve decided to work two days per week from a co-working space and one day per week from a home office.
Your target client is generally busy with work and life. As such, they don’t like wasting time and value legal services that you can provide efficiently. They also need to implement any agreements effectively from the outset, so they can focus on working in their business.
How would you provide that service? What is the process within that legal service? Write down all of the steps within that process. For example, the client calls your office, you or a staff member make an appointment for a first meeting, you meet for an hour to take instructions, you act on those instructions and prepare documents, you email your client back and forth to finalise each of the documents, maybe meeting with them once again. Then you send them your invoice.
What are the time costs associated with your services to your target client? If you’re not sure, have a look at our first article, Identifying the Current Inefficiencies in Your Legal Services. Consider the time costs both to your target client and your practice. It’s not the time that you think it takes. It’s the time that it takes to do everything to achieve that outcome. For example, going to a meeting involves preparing for the meeting, travelling to the meeting, waiting for the meeting, and any inefficiencies to fill in the allocated time slot.
Now think back to your target client and the way they’d like to do things. You can have a few options, but generally, there will be only a couple of ways your target client would like to approach each step in the process of providing your legal service. Keep in mind that your target client doesn’t like wasting time and values efficient legal services. For example, you might like to consider whether your meeting to obtain instructions could be in person or via video chat. Or perhaps it would be easier to have an online form followed by a phone call? Can you automate your precedents and have your client complete the online interviews, so you then have a customised draft document to review?
What changes can you make to each of the steps within the process of providing your legal services to exceed your target client’s expectations? Perhaps you can start with an online booking form for meetings. Perhaps you can have a simple chat feature on your website so someone can make that important first contact by instant message (while they are waiting somewhere and trying to be quiet). Perhaps you can redesign your documents so you can automate them and produce them within a few minutes rather than spend days drafting? Perhaps you can commit to a paperless office and do your part for the environment (which is something that is valued by many people)? Perhaps you could use electronic signing for documents, so your client doesn’t need to use the snail mail system? Be creative!
What does the process behind your legal service look like now?
Try it out. Change one or two of the steps at a time and try out the changing process with a few trusted clients. What did they like? What works? Add more of that to your process.
What did they not like? What didn’t work? Get rid of that from your process, wherever possible.
Now implement more of your innovative ideas, try them and refine your process as needed. Make a reminder to review your process every few months and refine it as necessary. Congratulations! You’ve just been innovative with your legal services!
If you’d like to hear more from us about being innovative in legal practice, join the Support Legal community. You’ll be able to access our quality, automated documents that you can use in your practice now, learn from our resources and collaborate, connect, explore and share with other innovative lawyers in our community group.