A fascinating report commissioned and recently published by LexisNexis investigates the increasing significance of client experience as a key differentiating factor for law firm clients.
As a barometer on common practices and client perceptions, the report serves as a timely reminder that in changing times, the value of relationships as well as processes should not be underestimated.
Common themes emerge from the industry research undertaken, including how firms manage engagement, resolution of problems, disconnects, and practices that add value. With regard to the recommendations for law firms, the report offers three main areas for consideration and development.
Firstly, the report asks what it means to actively understand what it means to be a client - their values, pressures, and constraints and focusing on engagement that is not only transactional but sees the relationship as clearly distinct from activities to create greater empathy and understanding.
Secondly, the findings invite law firms to improve the client experience through structured processes. Specifically, this includes building solutions around the client journey and potential pain points.
Thirdly, the report asks that firms consider value networks and increased collaboration with providers and clients to improve client experience through processes such as co-creation.
In many ways, the report serves as an effective litmus test against which we can assess our journey of ongoing development and reflect on how many of these criteria already form a significant part of our operational ethos.
On understanding client needs, a recognised strength within the JB Leitch team is undeniably the level of market and industry knowledge we have. At a strategic level, our business development team have fostered long term relationships with both industry bodies and clients alike, creating a market led knowledge network that keeps in tune with movement in the market as well as the issues of the day that concern clients. It allows us to add value through constructive challenge as well as providing deeper contextual insight. This is perhaps, best represented by the recognition we received at the Property Management 50, with business development Director Karen Bolland receiving a “Legend” award for continuing to support clients and the wider industry at a level of dedication that is unsurpassed.
On the second recommendation (focusing on providing clients with clearly structured processes), our trajectory is assured and innovative – but importantly never static. Operationally, the scale of our clients varies greatly. The resources, processes and pressures for a smaller firm are different than those of the largest. What we provide is a highly refined process led approach to all of our work, be it for arrears collection, complex breach cases, forfeiture or real estate matters. If form follows function, then the JB Leitch team structures and systems reflect this. Each stage of a case follows an agreed process map, resides with the relevant team and is escalated accordingly. The golden thread of continuity throughout this is the IT infrastructure that we have invested in, developed and refined to provide detailed information and activity flows to financial management. Indeed, it is the very rigour of these structures that allows us the latitude to build bespoke solutions.
However, it is important to note that having established processes means we are not intractable or in danger of complacency. We proactively encourage client feedback and input. For JB Leitch, a good client relationship is based on two way conversation with the trust and integrity to be open. Highlighting this, one of our key differentiators is the way develop client reports based entirely around what the client wants. We effectively take an open brief, analyse, collate, compare, comment and design BI that is meaningful, useful and results orientated. We listen, we understand and jointly consider the best solutions. It is, to reflect the third recommendation, a collaborative and co-creative process.
In summary, the examples given are representative of our approach on a day to day basis, however we also recognise that fostering a strong client experience reflects a more fundamental representation of JB Leitch’s vision and values, and perhaps the report findings echo the most prescient of these: “Clients First”.