Peppermint Technology and Legal Futures jointly conducted a survey across delegates attending last week's Legal Futures Conference in London last week. The survey revealed that the customer experience will largely define the success of a legal provider post LSA.

• 92% of those surveyed concluded a deep understanding of the client profile was the single most important influencing factor to ensuring a good customer experience. While this may not come as a surprise, the research indicated that putting this into practice will set a significant challenge for some law firms. Respondents felt potential new entrants to the market would have a big advantage over firms because they already have sophisticated databases that would allow them to achieve this requirement with ease. This would enable new entrants to “add value at a price that customers are prepared to pay” was the view of one respondent.

• The subject of access to justice was also high on the agenda. It was found that “access” was not just about legal aid reforms but equally about making legal service providers more approachable and available at a time, place and cost acceptable to the client’s terms. While the survey was not large enough to be conclusive it did suggest clients will take more control. The business model looks set to transform from one where a firm will pushing services to clients pulling services on their terms. One delegate summarised the point well in stating “understanding what the client wants rather than the lawyer telling the client what he or she wants, I think that’s quite key.”

• 83% of those surveyed indicated the need for services to be available beyond traditional office hours, and having an online presence was a theme that would become a business priority. “I don’t think enough law firms are approachable enough and this is where the likes of the Co-op and others will win because they are great at customer service” commented one delegate.

• Self-service is a new concept for the legal industry but one which has been dominant in other industries for some time. Clients are demanding online services to get access to information and purchase services. 58% of interviewees commonly agreed that “people want to get on and do things for themselves”. It was also clear that providing a consistent service is something that “lawyers have really got to get a much better grasp of if they’re going to survive” commented one delegate. Not surprisingly good communication between the solicitor and client also came across as an important factor in achieving a level of service that sets one firm apart from rivals.

• Going a step further 16% of respondents indicated loyalty schemes would be an important tool to thank clients for their business, reward them for recommendations and to keep a firm’s name in front of them.

In conclusion it is obvious there is a sea of change, or perhaps a tsunami, approaching. clients of legal services expect providers to be upping their game somewhat in terms of the customer experience. The future of legal is moving into the modern age where a business will sink or swim based on the strength of the customer experience. Those providers who deliver a great service at the right price, anytime, anywhere from anything will have the best chance of survival.