leaf smlROBIN’S BLOG

Robin has over 20 years of professional and financial services marketing experience. Here he provides commentary about some of the key evolving issues within professional services strategy and marketing.  The aim is to provoke thinking and provide useful information that marketers can use within their firms as they continue to improve performance.

thriving… Improving marketing, business development, client satisfaction, and financial performance.

“The solicitor disappeared!” – the impact of turnover on client relationships and how to handle it better.

Though it shouldn’t, it still surprises me when I hear feedback from clients of law firms about a particular issue.

If anything it seems to be becoming more frequent.  We hear “war stories” from clients who talk about contacting the person dealing with their issue at a law firm, only to find that person is no longer there.

There has been no communication either from the solicitor or the firm as a whole. At best the client has to then provoke a response by the firm to allocate to another lawyer, and spend some time “re-educating” the new person responsible for their matter.

Put yourself in the client’s shoes. It’s irritating enough to have to spend additional time; additionally it doesn’t feel as though the law firm particularly values the relationship with me.  So it’s not surprising that the client then often says that they are either less likely to give the firm work in the future, or that while they will instruct it in other areas, they have lost confidence in one particular practice or team.

We’ll shortly produce an article on how to deal with the root causes of this problem.

Making more effective use of insight (by wasting less time)

Thriving did a small research project last year looking at some non-client firms and exploring areas of best, good, and less good practice. You can see the results in more detail in the Articles section.  What is hampering firms gain the benefits of client insight in many cases, is the time spent “manually” gathering, collating and analysing insight. The focus is on cranking the handle rather than exploiting the result.

The “admin heavy” nature of this is sometimes because of an understandable desire by partners to maintain control.  An hour spent by staff manually finessing processes cannot be spent in consulting with decision makers about the actions the firm should take.

There is a massive opportunity in many firms to improve this – we have a free benchmarking tool for any one who’d like to review how they compare to good practice – contact Robin if you’d like to access this.

The technology was all very fine – but what about the basics?

I’ve recently been looking at getting new car. So I make appointments for test drives etc. All good fun.

At one car brand/dealer, once I’d made the appointment, I got an email reminder the day before, then on the morning, and subsequently I’ve had about 3 mails, apparently from the head of customer sales (though clearly automatically generated) advising me of the risk of letting the car I really want go by.

All very fine, if a bit irritating and intrusive. But the real problem is that the salesperson didn’t turn up to the appointment I’d booked and I left after 30 minutes of wasted time. It turns out the receptionist didn’t pass the message on properly, the salesperson didn’t check. The closest I got to an apology was a voicemail saying ‘sorry I missed you’.

I wonder how much effort has got into the automated message system and how much has gone into staff training and behaviour. The former has no impact on my purchase decision, the latter has quite a bit. I won’t be buying a car from there.

Mission Accomplished

My old school friend Russell and I reached John O’Groats 16 days after setting off on our bikes, from Lands End, at 6pm on 10th June.

The journey was not without challenges but also, we met many lovely people and were the recipients of several acts of kindness along the way.

The WorldWildlife Fund is over £1550 better off, and Russ also raised a great sum for his preferred charity, Make A Wish.

You can see some of the pictures here

Major clients feel law firms have only a “superficial” knowledge of their business

A recent analysis conducted by Lexis Nexis and Cambridge University’s Judge Business School made for somewhat disturbing reading.

The results suggest that even across the biggest clients of firms, key contacts believe their relationship partners and firms serving them have only a superficial knowledge of their business.

The report notes that “All clients were uniformly of the opinion that not only do the law firms not provide relationship services, in many cases they do not seem to see the need.”

This is causing some clients to look elsewhere for advice. Given this is a substantive risk to firm revenue, the authors recommend that firms stop focusing predominantly on a transactional approach to key clients and instead instil “a sense of partnership where the client feels valued and protected.”

Do you know how clients view their relationship with your firm?

How should leaders, marketers and managers of firms respond during “Brexit” ?

Brexit means uncertainty.

Should leaders, marketers and other heads try and ignore it, in the hope that it will go away?

Should they plan on the basis of an outcome they hope will happen?

Or should they give in to the uncertainty and not plan at all? Should they promote hard, or accept reduced budgets?

Or should they rethink where they can really add value – click here for some thoughts on how leaders can really respond positively to the challenge and help build the firm’s performance.

I’ll talk about the role of scenario planning also in a future blog

Changing the mind of a client ‘about to walk’

I was furious with the service I received recently but the company involved has ‘stalled my hand’. There are lessons for others.

Myself and my family had a fabulous holiday in Italy. Great service everywhere. The glaring exception was car-hire.

Aggressive attempts to up-sell to me at the pick-up point got my back up. I very clearly said I did not need any additional insurance either.

When I returned the car the fee was far higher than expected. Yep, all the insurance had been added on. The invoice I got the following day also included fees for a tank of fuel even though we had returned it 95% full.

Here’s the good bit. I received an online questionnaire the next day. I completed it immediately providing a ‘likelihood of recommendation’ rating of 1 out of 10, and briefly describing why.

Within 2 hours I had an email from the managing director of the unit involved saying all insurance changes would be refunded. Would I have used them again before this? No way. I was sufficiently fed up that I would have shared the experience widely on social media too, clearly naming the company.

Now I probably will use them again.

It also made me think about how clients use our ClearerView system. It also alerts firms where responses show clients are at risk.  It just shows how responding to these issues quickly can make a big difference.        

Strategic options…

It’s felt like a good time over the last couple of weeks to rethink about strategies and talk to clients about “what next?”

In this I’ve been reminded of a useful tool which was developed by Dr Tony Grundy. It’s very helpful as a means of determining the best choices from a range of options. You can see a top level view of it here

At it’s heart it is a simple way of thinking about and evaluating different options, that you can use in decisions from “what corporate strategy should we use?”, “who should we acquire?”, “what client segment shall we focus on?” “what website agency should we use?” or even “what car shall we have next?”

More about it is available online if you search on ‘strategic option grid’.

The EU referendum result and client insight

The world (or at minimum the UK) feels different than it did on 23 June and the result and its’ aftermath of course will have implications for your clients.

Much is still uncertain. But it’s an important time to reach out to clients; not just to tell, but to listen.

Our thinking is that there are 3 areas worth additional focus on, in the coming months, and asking your clients.  These include:

  • What activities and developments are now planned by the client (and how have these changed ?)
  • What is their sentiment, and level of confidence in the business environment?
  • Where do they need more certainty? Where would they value more advice about the potential impact?

Asking these questions can enable you to better help individual clients, but also to comment most meaningfully on key issues, and develop your events and communications programme to be most useful to your markets.

Comments, or questions, as always welcome on 07940 886677 or robin@thrivingcompany.co.uk

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