Fierce competition between mid-tier professional services firms has failed to make them more responsive to new business enquiries, according to research carried out on accountancy and law firms in London and the south-east. However, law firms appeared more responsive than their counterparts in accountancy.

For the study, 28 law firms and 20 accounting firms were approached through generic email addresses or contact forms on the firms’ websites. Among the law firms, 28% failed to respond to the enquiry. Of those firms that answered, response times varied from one hour to eight days.

Law firms fared better than accountancy firms, 45% of which failed to respond. Quotes provided by local competitors varied widely. Accountants asked to quote on a company formation provided estimates of between £400 and £3,000. Lawyers quoting on ‘basic matched wills’ provided estimates ranging from £295 to £1,250.

The research was conducted by communications consultancy Farrer Kane. Lead researcher Andrew Pincott noted the mid-tier market is one of the most crowded and competitive. ‘Yet despite business development having moved up the agenda, often with sophisticated marketing programmes, too many firms are making basic errors,’ he added.

Accountants who responded to enquiries overwhelmingly opted for email over telephone calls – lawyers were as likely to telephone.

Of the websites in the sample, only 20% allowed enquirers to specify whether they wished to receive further guidance or promotional material.