Firms are just as likely to value good customer service as the actual resolving of a legal matter, a new survey has found.

The poll of 100 law firms commissioned by marketing collective First4Lawyers found an almost equal split about attitudes to customer service, as well as an increasing value placed on the importance of review and comparison websites.

The results appear to suggest that the messages from regulators and consumers groups about client choice and satisfaction are making a difference and that beliefs around what constitutes good service are changing. But there continues to be reluctance about engaging with the public over reviews – especially negative ones.

Asked about their firm’s attitude to customer service, 41% of respondents said it was just as important as actually resolving a legal matter satisfactorily. Meanwhile 34% said consumers just wanted their legal matter resolved, while the remaining quarter recognised that customer service was important but as much as resolving the legal issue.

First4Lawyers managing director Qamar Anwar said: ‘The single most important role of the solicitor is, of course, to do the work properly. But that doesn’t mean customer service should take a back seat. Clients will usually be unable to assess the quality of your legal work, but they can judge the service they receive and are increasingly happy to write about it online.’

Review and comparison sites were used by 55% of law firms polled, although only 47% encourage their clients to post a review. Around a quarter respond to every review, while 31% only respond to selected reviews on an ad hoc basis and 13% of firms only respond to respond to positive reviews.

‘Law firm marketing has rapidly become digital first and you need to take control of what is being said about your firm online,’ said Anwar. ‘There are practical consequences too – not responding to reviews can affect your website’s page rankings. There is a disconnect between firms that say they rely on their reputation to bring in work but are then wary of client reviews.’

Meanwhile, First4InjuryClaims, a new alternative business structure law firm targeting RTA claims valued under £5,000, has been launched following approval from the SRA. The business will advise clients not willing to represent themselves in the claims portal set up for low-value RTA claims, and hopes to move into the space vacated by law firms who no longer see the work as profitable.