Thomson Reuters Institute recently published “State of the UK Legal Market 2021” which emphasises how client relationships are going to be critical post pandemic world. One of the challenges that caught our eye was: “addressing the value proposition within legal services and the extent to which new delivery models are becoming a sustained, genuine threat to those firms that cannot get the balance right.”
Since the initial lockdown, change has impacted all industries and brought with it new challenges such as homeworking and “Zoom fatigue.’ The ‘we are all in this together’ feeling and an acceptance for best endeavours for service delivery at the time, is less prominent now.
Change is hard, even when it is well planned, but lockdown led businesses into “accidental transformation.” This impacted all sectors. The legal sector already had a packed Technology and Innovation agenda. As we emerge from lockdown, customer expectations are continuing to rise.
For ambitious firms, who want to be successful in the future, expectations are increasing around customer service delivery. At the same time, there is also a desire to see evidence of investment to underpin long term relationships. Investing in areas that drive digital transformation, such as robotics and AI, does not come cheap nor is it easily implemented alongside running a firm.
Change is challenging, time-consuming, and managing the myriad stakeholders impacted by the change requires energy. It does not just happen and requires real effort and additional skills.
When time is money, backed by traditional output measures such as: utilisation, billed hours, or billed amount all this presents a conundrum. They are internally focused measures, which reflect neither the needs of the customer, nor those of the teams delivering the service. To compound matters further, the tracking of time and effort in traditional 6-minute units to support billing, clouds the real effort invested and how this aligns to customer demand. This impacts decisions about where the greatest opportunities exist for improvement.
So, if customer expectations are rising and they are unlikely to pay for the changes that they want to see, how do you move forward? Operationally, how do you ensure that you are giving yourselves the best chance of success in the future?
To assess the degree to which there is alignment between you and your customer proposition you could consider areas like:
- Do you put your customers first? Can you evidence that?
- Is the strategic vision understood and embraced by every level of the team? Do they recognise the contribution they are making towards its success?
- Are you good at delivering change? Does it stick?
- Do you have the right measures in place to track customer and team outcomes as well as internal targets?
- Are systems and processes consistently followed by everyone in the team? This helps to provide reliable data points and support continuous improvement decision making and future investments in digital.
It is not just the legal sector feeling these pressures. Many businesses are feeling them and perhaps some are resisting the need to change.