Presenting the dream team

Posted by Dave Seager, consulting adviser at Legal Futures Associate SIFA Professional

Seager: Consumers will be reassured by a whole-team approach

I am acutely aware as a consultant to law firms, rather than someone who works within one, that there is still some reticence to fully embrace the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) transparency rules.

However, it is equally obvious that the regulator is determined that consumers want and need to be able to easily find and understand the legal service they seek or need.

I have usually tended to write and advise based on why transparency and a clearer portrayal of services is important to the researching consumer, rather than the specifics of the actual SRA rules. The rules, in my view, are simply a nudge to common sense and good business practice.

The recent Legal Services Consumer Panel tracker survey for 2023 informed us that 39% of individuals in need of a legal service are researching online and over a third will consider at least three providers.

This being the case, how you present your firm, your people, your specialisms and your services online has never been so important.

One particular piece of advice I have read that has always particularly resonated, is to really focus on how you demonstrate clearly on your website exactly who will be involved in delivering the service that a consumer is researching.

It is simple and essential to present the solicitors, highlighting their experience, expertise and qualifications, but many firms seem to stop there, if they even go that far. I am quite confident that a researching consumer would be far more reassured to see the rest of the team who will be working with the lead solicitor or legal executive and be able to understand the role and duties of each member of that team.

An often-levelled criticism from consumers when dealing with law firms is that ‘I could never get hold of my solicitor’. However, if the new customer, who you hope will become a client, appreciates at the outset that their matter is being handled by a tight-knit team, then expectations will be met, and satisfaction assured.

If a paralegal is likely to be working alongside a solicitor or legal executive on a matter, and it is that team member who will be likely to respond swiftly to calls or emails, then surely that individual is key to that client and should be presented to them at the earliest possible opportunity. That earliest opportunity is the website, showing them alongside the lead practitioner as integral to that team.

Presenting a team that will be acting in their best interests to a new customer is highly reassuring and provides a comfort factor. This is particularly so if the biographies on the website include photos, individual contact details and some non-work-related information to personalise the team and make them seem approachable at the research stage.

It is amazing what a smiley face can do and more amazing still what a team of smiling faces – here to help you – can do!

An additional benefit of presenting to the researching consumer, likely to be looking at other solicitor’s websites, that it is a team approach to the service being offered is the impact on the perception of ‘value’.

Since the transparency rules were introduced, there has been a concern at the over-simplicity of having to present a likely price for the core services included. However, if viewed another way, showing a likely cost to a new customer might be a distinct advantage, if presented well.

The key here is not the potential cost to the consumer but what is included in that cost; that is, the value. It is the experience, expertise and qualifications, along with the various stages of work involved in delivering the service in question, that clearly illustrate that value.

Therefore, the benefit of portraying on the website the constituent parts of the team that enable the firm to deliver the service efficiently is vital. The message your website must convey is that all these valued and important team members are working together to deliver the service you need at a standard you deserve.

My final point on the presentation of your team is that, if your team extends beyond your own staff and includes trusted third parties you work with, in your clients’ best interests, such as financial planners, hopefully SIFA Professionals, then be sure to say so.

Customers are looking for a joined-up team to offer entire solutions, so ensure your website informs that you work with carefully selected fellow professionals to facilitate that holistic approach.


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