Holes in your client experience?

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Whatever your marketing budget, it is important to ensure that every enquiry is handled efficiently and effectively in order to maximise the proportion which are converted to an instruction.

An enquiry can pass through many parts of your firm (website, reception, secretaries and other lawyers) before reaching the appropriate person. It will also pass through the phases of an explanation of circumstances and needs, discussion of a solution, outlining costs and benefits, confirmation of proposals, follow-up, acceptance or decline.

At each of these points, your team has an opportunity to impress. A team member may convey empathy and build confidence, or they may not. They may appear enthusiastic and capable, or they may not. How can you monitor this important performance indicator without an efficient centralised system for capturing and monitoring the conversion of enquiries to instructions?

This uncertainty can present a problem for senior management, who may have a hunch or anecdotal evidence that one department is better at conversion that another, but they may not be clear exactly where in the process the weaknesses are.

Ideally you need to know, for each department:

  • how many enquiries they receive;
  • where these come from;
  • how many become an instruction; and
  • if the firm is not instructed, why?

This is fairly basic management information, but given that enquiries enter a firm at so many points, it can be hard to capture and track this vital information. In a recent mystery shopping exercise with one law firm, an alarming seven out of 10 enquiries were lost along the way, for a variety of reasons.

This reminded me of the Swiss cheese model of accident causation – it likens human systems to multiple slices of Emmental cheese. The holes in the cheese represent individual weaknesses in the system, but a system failure (such as the loss of a potentially valuable client) occurs when all the holes in the cheese align, allowing the hazard to pass through unfettered.

Exploring your client experience from enquiry through to potential instruction can be a useful exercise to ensure that there are no holes in your firm’s approach to client care.

Sue Bramall is managing director of Berners Marketing and advises law firms in the UK and overseas

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