I AM A SELF-CONFESSED COFFEE ADDICT, partial to boutique coffee shops. This is no problem in Australia, where I now live. They are everywhere – literally everywhere! But back in the UK, there was only one high street coffee shop that I would frequent – Pret. The coffee at Pret is good, but what is outstanding is their customer experience.
Take one early morning start, for example. A chap in front of me asked for a tea. The upbeat guy from Pret smiled, threw out his arms to form a letter ‘T’ and said, “Here you go sir! Here’s your tea”. I know, it doesn’t sound funny, it’s a ‘dad joke’, but it cheered everyone up on that wet morning.
This is what I mean by the customer experience. That guy from Pret knew his job was about more than serving the product. He knew it was about delivering an experience. Pret do this again and again and while the coffee is good, it is not the coffee that has turned me into an advocate and a repeat customer. It’s the consistently positive customer experience.
In my training and consulting role I focus on perfecting the customer experience that law firms and legal service providers deliver to their clients. Does this ‘Pret Effect’ work for these types of organisations, you might ask?
In short, yes.
Here’s the long answer. Taking the UK Law Society’s most asked legal enquiries, a systematic sample of 100 law firms and legal service providers, and our team of secret shoppers, we applied our research methodology to evaluating the front-end customer experience of law clients. We engaged with receptionists, legal assistants, fee earners, voicemails, and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems. We even spoke to a nice lady two doors down from a law firm, because her phone number was incorrectly listed on the law firm’s website!
The critical question posed to all these legal providers in our comprehensive report was:
“If I were a prospective client of my own firm, would I engage and recommend the service I received?”
Based on our research using a secret shopping approach formatted for the sector, only 8% of callers would confidently instruct and recommend the firms they spoke with. Whilst, 30% would most definitely not instruct and would actively tell others not to. This left a startling 65% of shoppers undecided and waiting to be persuaded after their enquiries were made to firms.
Now, let’s go back to my coffee shop example. There were four coffee shops to choose from near my former office in London – Pret, Nero, Starbucks and Costa. Comparatively, there were probably 20 or 30 law firms within a few hundred yards of my office and approximately 10,000 law firms and providers in the UK. Is the product the same? Arguably, yes. Are the fee earners capable? On the whole, yes. Can the customer or client really measure the quality of legal advice? Not really. How do they compare on price? Not much in it.
So what matters most? Our research shows that it is the degree to which a firm delivers a customer experience above the norm. As one person from one law firm said:
“Really? 6 out of 10 calls to my firm result in the person being as likely to spend their money elsewhere?”.
Is it time that you gave your service firm a caffeine shot in the arm?