Overcoming Client Dissatisfaction In the Legal Industry

Blog post - 22 April 2021

Customer satisfaction hasn’t traditionally been a focal point for law firms. Even today, where customer experience is king, law firms are largely ignoring the vast potential customer satisfaction holds. Why? Because client satisfaction is often perceived as coming at the cost of ‘practicing real law’. Let’s explore that (mis)conception.

Client satisfaction remains low for the legal industry
Law firms have consistently underperformed in the category of customer satisfaction. The Clearly Rated benchmark for overall satisfaction across all industries is scored at 50%, while leading service providers (like Amazon and Nordstrom) achieve scores around 75%. In April 2020, law firms scored just 26% That’s after recording year-on-year growth in customer satisfaction for the past five years. So, customers are more satisfied with law firms today than they were half a decade ago. But the legal industry remains well below the global benchmark.

Misguided legal priorities for future development
The 2020 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Report outlines these three changes
as the major priorities for European and American law firms:

» Increased adoption of technologies to improve productivity
» Greater specialisation
» Innovation

Notably, there’s no mention of customerfacing improvements. Perhaps that’s because fewer than 30% of lawyers surveyed feel their legal department is prepared to address issues relating to their
customer services.

Low customer satisfaction is cause for concern
Despite changing client demands and surging legal competition causing a buyer’s marketplace, these critical customer-facing improvements have been slow to trickle into the legal industry.
Meanwhile, the proliferation of technological intervention, the rise of alternative legal models, and the slow erosion of exclusivity in the practice of law are all chipping away at the monopoly
lawyers previously enjoyed. This is evidenced by recent decisions in Utah and Arizona, both of which deregulate legal services to bridge the justice gap. These decisions herald the way forward. In the future, there will be greater spread of legal spend - meaning reduced profits, increased cost of client retention, and pressure on law firms to provide exceptional client experiences.

What can be done to promote client satisfaction with legal services?
In the buyer’s market, legal clients are in a position to demand more from their law
firms. The vast majority of today’s clients want efficient, responsive legal services that provide ‘good enough’ solutions to their legal problems. Those solutions should be provided in a
collaborative, omnichannel environment that maintains a 360-degree view of the
client’s experience.

“[The client experience] is a key piece of the value that organizations offer. Modern consumers expect more than a product of service: they expect an end-to-end customer experience that makes sense.” Jack Newton in The Client Centered Law Firm

The takeaway here is that clients aren’t just buying legal solutions from your law firm. They’re buying the experience. And ‘average’ experience doesn’t drive profits or promote customer loyalty. Going forward, law firms should consider their customer experience in decision making at the firm level. Legal clients are facing a growing amount of choice in their legal services providers, and customer excellence is a point of differentiation that counts.