Supermarket Sweep

The problem that many lawyers have with supermarkets brands (or just about anyone else who isn’t, you know, a law firm), offering legal services is that they always visualise delivery through the prism of the lawyer and not the customer. Brands do the reverse and I think that will be defining.

To say that brands will not deliver as a good a service is either naive as to what is going on or a display of arrogance about how lawyers see the future, or both.

And I am not saying brands will be perfect but let he who hath committed perfect service levels throw the first stone.

Travelling and engaging with lawyers up and down the country over the last few years you get a feel for both the mood and vision. My sense though is that I am less than positive. Lawyers have been institutionalised in how they deliver their service. This delivery model is passed down and rarely challenged or changed mainly because of the ultra-hierarchical infrastructure found in a law firm.

Valuable support staff, experts in their own fields of IT, marketing, business development, HR are either marginalised or deployed in panic mode. They are brought in to advise and in many cases then ignored. These people know stuff…and that stuff is valuable, not frivolous.

Even when there is change it is fought against tooth and nail, at times in excruciating detail. And that change, if it happens, will present something seemingly remarkable in the eyes of the lawyer yet wholly unremarkable in the eyes of just about anyone else.

Now I am a social fella. You can’t travel the length and breadth meeting all and sundry without creating some emotional attachment to your host and occasional hostess. I meet lots of great lawyers, we have a laugh, I learn some amazing things, they are spectacularly candid with me at times but you know what makes me sad about all of this? Lawyers offer huge value but they have a habit of screwing it up by how they deliver it and some delude themselves that only they can provide it.

I’ve said it before and, as this is my blog, I’ll say it again. Good cop LSA and bad cop LASPO didn’t happen because lawyers were all, in the words of old Mr Grace, “doing very well.” Yeah okay they were but for the wrong reasons. And it is these wrong reasons that caused LSA. I could be harsh, I could say you made your bed.

So brands. Wow they spend a huge amount of time deploying whole teams to do nothing else than make the customer experience better. You got one of those teams? They will focus on the weaknesses of the lawyer delivery model; price, accessibility, transparency.  They put the customer at the centre because the customer is the centre. They will play their game not yours.

Sure lawyers will fight back, probably, for many, in panic mode doing too much too late as they scramble forlornly for a solution, slowly and painfully realising that many customers started listening to a better tune. A tune lawyers heard but ignored. Lawyers will wake up to the harsh reality that the future of legal service happened as much because of what lawyers failed to do as because of what brands did do.

Lawyers are gambling the farm on a hope that the customer will always accept their way of delivering and when presented with an alternative will reject it.

Not all law firms of course. But many, many law firms as this sector is resized and made fit for purpose.

Okay so let’s rebalance the doom and gloom. No one wants to end a post on a low after all.

Remember you have huge value in your heads. All you need to do is make sure it is tuned in properly to the people who do the listening. Oh and a few other things that are only small changes that can have big impacts. Return calls, manage expectations, don’t talk in jargon, collect client data and stop looking for things to solve problems that only you can.

Good night and good luck.

FOOTNOTE

This piece started off earlier today after I read some of Michael Welsh’s research. I started off from the angle of the supermarket but refined it to brands. Of course a brand could be a law firm or have a law firm behind it.