It was a wonderful honour to speak at the LSN Practice Management Conference 2014. During my session (see my presentation here), we explored developing a better customer experience for tomorrow’s clients through enhancing customer understanding. I indicated that one of the great benefits of the existing regulatory architecture in legal services is the increased emphasis on evidence based regulation particularly with regard to consumer research. However, this resource appears to be underutilised by legal services providers, particularly small firms to inform and shape the development and implementation of their customer experience strategies.

Although commissioning bespoke consumer research can be beneficial for legal services providers, regrettably the cost of doing so can be prohibitive for many firms.  However, the good news is that just as Santa Claus delivers periodic gifts; the Legal Services Board (LSB) has recently published new consumer research reports which present wonderful insights to help firms enhance their understanding of customer needs. I recognise that some may consider the sample of customers surveyed in both reports not to be wholly representative of their customers and conclude that the information is not relevant. But the data in these reports can be the foundation for firms to develop their own supplementary research or inform the development of prototype products or services.

The key takeaways from the reports are summarised as follows:

Legal Services Board: How People Resolve ‘Legal’ Problems (May 2014)

Key Takeaways

  • The predominant business models of law firms are based on resolution of legal problems that consumers have identified and categorised as legal problems. However, this approach potentially limits the market opportunities in legal services as legal services providers tend to be reactive rather proactive in their engagement with customers.
  • Quadrant B in Figure 1 below is the predominant domain where consumers engage with legal services providers to address their legal problems.


Key Implications

  • There are potential opportunities for legal services providers to develop new service categories to frame legal problems in ways that matter to more consumers.
  • A likely emerging sub market in legal services is the provision of cost effective packages of services including information products to help consumers to identify legal problems appropriately and in a timely manner in order to address the unmet need for legal services.
  • Revenue opportunities should be explored particularly in Quadrants C & D in Figure 1 by helping consumers through the use of technology including interactive digital tools to self diagnose any likely legal dimension to their problems. Helping consumers to self diagnose less complex legal problems would also raise their self awareness and likely to enable them to better recognise when the services of a legal expert is necessary.

Legal Services Board: Helping Legal Services Consumers Make Better Decisions: Methods to Identify and Respond to Legal Problems (May 2014)

Key Takeaways

    • Provision of factual information to address knowledge gaps of consumers is necessary but not always sufficient to enable them to make appropriate/informed decisions.
    • Helping customers to make appropriate decisions during the customer journey requires a good understanding of the likely difficulties that they may face in different types of legal problems.
    • As summarised in Figure 2 below, other factors should be taken into account to support customers to make the right decisions including choosing the right legal services provider. Some of the other factors are as follows:
  • Values of customers – what really matters most to them
  • Risk appetite of customers
  • Bespoke dissemination of information
  • Reducing bias in information provision
    Timely provision of relevant information (objective & subjective)
  • Degree of self confidence of customers
  • Degree of inherent friction in the customer journey


Figure 2: Overview of Better Customer Decision Making


Key Implications

  • Mapping the key decisions that customers are required to make prior and during a legal transaction and assessing through the customers’ lens whether the existing processes support customers to make appropriate/informed decisions.
  • Using insights in this report to enhance marketing material of legal services providers in order to optimise the acquisition, engagement and retention of customers

Key Observations

  • An interesting aspect of the report was the impact of ‘nudging’ as an approach in some contexts to enable customers to make decisions (nudging is an approach where the customer’s decision is presumed with the option that if they are otherwise minded in a defined period, that can actively reverse the decision).
  • This perhaps explains why the use of nudging in conveyancing seems to result in customers sticking with the conveyancing firm recommended by their estate agent or mortgage broker despite the option afterwards to choose another provider. The question that requires further exploration is whether in such decisions where the customer’s level of emotional investment in the decision is relatively low; there is a correlation with positive satisfaction after the transaction. In other words if a customer is actively and emotional engaged in the selection of their legal services provider, are they more likely to have higher expectations of service delivery and relatively less satisfied even if service delivery is the same with customers nudged into the process.

In summary, it appears that customers want the legal services ecosystem to make it easier for them to timely recognise and cost effectively meet their legal needs. The great opportunity for tomorrow’s legal businesses is profitably giving customers what they want.