“Basic errors” keep law firms scoring low for customer experience

Winchester: Firms need to apply a human touch

Law firms record lower scores for customer experience than other professional sectors, with a host of “basic and avoidable errors” costing them new business, a survey has found.

Researchers at customer experience specialists insight6 gave the legal sector a Net Promoter Score of -54. The score is based on how likely customers are to recommend a business to others, and ranges from -100 to +100.

Accountants did marginally better with a score of -47, insurance and finance achieved -32 and property -30. This compares with scores of 53 for Amazon, 55 for Netflix and 56 for Apple.

Research by the London School of Economics shows that for every 7% increase in a brand’s NPS, their revenue will grow by 1% as a direct result.

For example, mystery shoppers – who went through the full customer journey of a new enquiry – found that more than a third of email enquiries (37%) to law firms received no reply at all.

“Most alarmingly, only 43% were reported to be well-written and grammatically correct. Particularly noteworthy was the difference in the use of jargon.

“While legal firms manage to keep their phone conversations jargon-free (95%), email communication was jargon-free only 65% of the time.

“Something is going wrong for legal firms between phone and online interactions. Their well-honed skills of speaking plainly on the phone are often lacking when communications begin online.”

The mystery shoppers approached 84 law firms by phone, email or webchat, asking for advice on wills, conveyancing, personal injury claims, divorce and employment.

Jonathan Winchester, chief executive of insight6, said: “What is interesting is that it is not the complex nature of the job, or the expertise required that is letting [law] firms down, but the most basic of day-to-day interactions that are costing them dearly.”

He said the survey revealed “a catalogue of basic, and avoidable errors” that caused a breakdown of the customer journey and potentially lost business.

“Typically, it is a simple matter of applying emotional intelligence – a human touch, yet the initial contact with legal firms was often the opposite.”

Law firm websites were found to be “helpful and information”, with 100% providing contact details and 98% containing enough information for the customer to judge whether they provided the relevant services.

Webchat was an improving area for law firms. It was offered by only 16% of them, but this was higher than the figure for accountancy or financial services firms.

“Webchat responses were well-written and grammatically correct in 91% of cases. Communication initiated by webchat was also jargon-free 91% of the time.

“And when follow up information was promised, it was delivered every time. Perhaps surprisingly, webchat also delivered a human touch – 82% of our researchers reported webchats were helpful and had ‘the appropriate empathy’.”

Nearly two-thirds of law firms (63%) answered phone calls promptly and within three rings, but only 22% of those answering the calls gave their name.

“This lack of personal interaction continued when callers were put through to an expert, with only 60% of those experts giving their own name to the caller.”

Researchers said follow-up by law firms was “weak”, with 43% of callers who left a message not receiving a return call.

“Experts sometimes offered to send further information for the client, but in 38% of cases this was not done.”

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