Client experience in law: 3 myths debunked

Why lawyers misunderstand the client experience

This is what lawyers believe the client experience to be

  • Customer service
  • Expensive gifts
  • A bespoke, end to end service

This thinking costs you money and clients and affects your ability to grow your law firm.

What is the client experience in law?

The client experience in law is the complete journey your client takes with your business and brand. It’s the actions and touchpoints they find during their interaction with you. 

It’s the sum of two elements:

  • The touchpoints they have in their journey with you, and 
  • The emotions and feelings they experience at each step along their journey with you

Instead of reacting (most of our customer service), the client experience is something you proactively design to prevent problems or frictions along the way.

It’s the secret to loyal, referring customers and long term business growth.

Want to dig a little deeper? Let’s go.

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers & happy lawyers. Episode 8.

Join me each week for my Instagram Live session for law firm owners where you’ll get actionable advice and tips on how to get more happy clients and make yourself a happy lawyer with the help of legal design thinking. 

 You can catch a replay of Episode eight here or join me live and ask questions.

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen Happy customers and happy lawyers episode 8. The client experience in law: 3 myths debunked.

How’s your client experience

When was the last time you thought about the experience your clients have when working with you? What does it look and feel like to buy your services?

If you’re like most lawyers, you haven’t thought about it. You might think about your clients a lot, their legal problems and how to solve them. Maybe even the customer service you offer. 

But how about the experience, their internal and emotional journey with you?

You’re not alone. While the rest of the world started the transition to experience economy over 20 years ago, the legal profession is still deciding whether it applies to us at all. 

Working with legal teams across the world has shown me that lawyers have a lot of misunderstandings about the client experience. 

And these faulty assumptions keep them from taking steps in the right direction. Because if you don’t what the client experience is, it’s hard to improve, right?

Myths about the client experience in law

Do any of these myths sound familiar to you?

  • Myth #1: Customer service is the same as client experience. As long as I’m offering customer service, I’m covered. 
  • Myth #2: Working on your client experience is expensive, it takes expensive gifts and taking your clients to luxurious dinners.
  • Myth #3: The best client experience is always a tailored and artisanal legal service where the lawyer takes control and handles the assignment from start to finish.

Let’s unpack them.

It’s the same as customer service

Client experience is not customer service. Customer service is part of client experience and they have a lot in common. 

But customer service means the single event where your client reaches out for help or support during their journey. It’s when they reach out because they have a question or problem. 

Client experience is the complete journey your client takes with your business and brand. It’s all of the actions and touchpoints to interact with you, not just when there’s a question or a problem. 

Do you see the difference?

One way to look at the distinction between customer service and client experience is that when you provide customer service you are reacting to the requests the client makes. 

While client experience is something you want to design proactively, to prevent the problems and frictions along the way. 

The best way to ensure you provide a good client experience is to solve problems before your clients even raise them.

It’s about expensive gifts

This is common. Maybe a hangover from the days when big law firms pampered their clients with all sorts of things.

Client experience is not about giving your clients fancy gifts or taking your clients for swanky dinners. An exceptional customer experience does not need to be expensive and it doesn’t mean lavish dinners twice a year.  

“Clients want an easy and seamless experience with you. A journey that’s effortless and smooth, rather than filled with amazing gimmicks.” 

Time is the most precious thing people have and your job is to find ways to minimise the time they spend solving their legal problems. 

You need to pull apart your delivery because the devil is in the detail.  When we work through this in our workshops we discover a well-planned phone call at the right time, or a well-thought plan that maps what to expect can make all the difference.  Small and inexpensive things can make a huge difference.

It’s personalized, end-to-end service

Law firms want to offer white-glove service where highly specialized lawyers take control of the complex legal problem from start to finish. It’s manual, artisanal work where no case is left unread.

What client wouldn’t want that? The legal worries are taken care of and followed up with long detailed memos.

But here’s the catch: It’s expensive and often doesn’t serve the client the way they need. 

It’s not only the price though. It’s also because clients in the experience economy want new ways of using lawyers’ services. They might want to do some parts of the process themselves, with clear and simple instructions. Or have parts of the assignment handled by automated solutions.  The freedom from time and place to take care of their matters.

Excellent client service may also mean automation and digital services that empower clients to do more themselves whenever they want to.

What the client experience in law is

Now we’ve debunked the myths related to client experience, you’re probably asking what the client experience in law is.

The client experience in law is the client’s entire journey when solving their legal problems with you

From the moment they make their first contact with you, see your ad or visit your website, to the payment of the final bill and even beyond. 

Client experience is the sum of:

  • All the touchpoints they have in their journey with you

These include things you control and can’t control – how quickly you respond to email or pick up a call. Your brand messaging and signals you send about your legal service in your social media and advertising. What a client says about you at a dinner party.  Each one is a touchpoint and each one evokes an emotion. 

  • All their emotions related to each step, how they feel when they go along their journey with you.

How the client feels at every touchpoint. Were they frustrated trying to use your website? Did they feel you were approachable when they looked up your social media profile? Did they feel disappointed or angry when they heard your client speak at dinner? 

These are the concrete building blocks that you can start analyzing and then improving to make as positive as possible. 

You want to evoke feelings and create an emotional connection with your clients and meet their emotional needs behind the legal problem. This is the way to create lasting memorable experiences.

Can you see any opportunities in your practice? What feelings are you creating for clients or potential clients?

Want to chat about it?

Which of these myths resonated with you? What did you learn today?

If you’ve got a question, join me on Instagram every Wednesday at 8 am ET where you can ask me about the customer experience in your firm. 

You can find me at  @lawyersdesignschool and get more practical tips on where to invest your business development efforts, finding new clients and finding happiness as a boutique law firm owner.

Prefer email? Drop me an email at [email protected]. While you’re here, take a peek at the Lawyers Design School and discover other ways to use customer-centric thinking to grow your law firm and thrive in your business.

 You can catch a replay of Episode eight here  Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers.

Watch all the Happy customer and happy lawyers episodes.