Word is that in this economy law firm clients are willing to walk across the street just to get better value. Go figure. Value sells. Many law firms have begun competing on price—adopting alternative billing structures. I can’t help but wonder if law firms aren’t falling into the value box defined by their competitors instead of their clients? Is there more to value than price?
What if law firms focused their energies on creating loyal clients, the kind that love you, want to have legal questions just so they can be near you, and that readily refer your services to others?
What would that look like? It is this humble author’s opinion that law firms that can consistently deliver on the generic category benefits—those things that essentially define legal services, the stuff every client expects from their law firm but some law firms are clueless about—better than the competition have a real opportunity to differentiate themselves.
Generic Category Benefits?
Generic category benefits of a coffee shop: things that people expect from a coffee shop:
- A convenient location
- Open early AM
- Cups, plates, stirrers
- Sugar, creamer
- A place to sit, maybe a table
- A server or cashier
- Pastries or breakfast
Starbucks stands out as a leader in consistently providing the generic category benefits of a coffee shop exceptionally well and that’s why we love Starbucks. We can trust Starbucks to deliver, and we love that!
- Convenient locations in EVERY CITY and even some towns
- Consistent and reliable hours
- Inviting surroundings: warm or cool, clean and welcoming.
- Attractive cups distinguished with poems and art
- Soft seating, work tables, take out efficiency
- Friendly Baristas; some with refreshing personality that delivers that “glad you are here” attitude
- Consistently outstanding coffee; lots of tasty varieties and more
- Fresh pastry, healthy choices; we like that
- Wifi, custom music CD’s, free music downloads to enjoy while we’re lounging and sipping coffee
- 100 other items you really don’t need but make it interesting to browse while you’re waiting for your coffee
- A local flair, art, charities, special events
- A commitment to the environment
- and etc….
I don’t know about you, but when I have a Starbucks I feel like I’m a member of a special club –a club that treats me right. If I happen to have a errant experience I know who to speak to: if I tell someone in management, or send out a Tweet, they will make it right and that gives me comfort; I trust Starbucks. There are many choices in coffee shops, but Starbucks sets the bar.
There are many choices in law firms. Which one sets the bar? Is it yours?
Generic category benefits of a law firm: things that people expect to receive from a law firm.
- Conference room(s)
- Communications: telephone, email, fax
- Competent, ethical and confidential counsel.
- Filing documents
- Court appearances
- Ethical and confidential management of fiduciary accounts
- Communications: educational seminars, articles, etc.
What clients really want.
An anecdotal poll of consultants and law firm professionals who perform client satisfaction interviews reported these top 10 client service issues (complaints). (Note: Conversely many clients also reported that they were completely satisfied with their legal representation and that they had no complaints.)
- #10 Not understanding my industry/business
- #9 The surprise bill
- #8 Inaccessibility; the age of Blackberries
- #7 Over-lawyering
- #6 Missed deadlines
- #5 Not discussing strategy and recommendations
- #4 Not being informed when the responsible attorney is away: who can the client call in their absence
- #3 Not keeping client informed
- #2 Invoices for time or work not previously discussed with the client
- #1 Not returning phone calls
Of these top 10 complaints how many are generic category benefits? All of them!
If you can get your law firm – lawyers, staff and other professionals to focus on consistently delivering generic category benefits you could have loyal clients who love you, wouldn’t think of leaving you for another firm and best of all….refer you to others. Simple, right? Not! If it were simple everyone would do it.
What are those extra special touches within the generic category benefits that you offer you clients and that keep them loving you? How can you be the Starbucks of legal services? The formula is as unique as your firm AND your clients. But if you aren’t working on it, you may want to get started.