Thought Leadership

Is your law firm open for business when customers want?


Andy Cullwick, head of marketing, November 11, 2019

At the recent Legal Futures Annual PI conference, our head of marketing, Andy Cullwick, asked delegates if their law firm was open for business when customers want. Here’s an extract from his presentation:

I was woken by Alexa playing my motivating morning Spotify playlist.

As I went to the office, I picked up the Costa I pre-ordered on my app and paid by Apple Pay.

At lunchtime, I popped to the Amazon locker to pick up my last-minute holiday items, for the holiday that I booked via Airbnb.

I got back to my desk just in time for Deliveroo to drop off my lunch.

I paid a cheque into my bank at my desk using my banking app.

I received house viewing appointments via Purple Bricks at times that suited me.

After work, I retired to the pub and ordered drinks without having to queue at the bar, ordering via an app.

My smart watch told me I needed more steps to hit my daily goal, but there was a chill in the air, so I called for an Uber to take me home whilst flicking on the heating with Hive.

I finished the day tucking into my Just Eat takeaway whilst watching the latest Netflix blockbuster.

This may be an extreme example of a day, but these brands and services reflect how businesses are adapting to the way we interact with them.

Is your law firm set up to respond to customers in such a way?

The brands I referred to are all relatively new kids on the block, but they all have common attributes that have made them hugely successful in a very short space of time. They have quite literally shaken-up each of the vertical sectors they operate in and in most cases, left many casualties. You only need to look at our changing high streets to see where digital disruptors have left well established businesses in tatters.

One of the key ways these disruptors have succeeded is by offering convenience.

However, it’s not all about the young guns because some well-established brands have also developed propositions that have either launched them into new sectors or reinforced their position in an existing vertical sector. British Gas is one such example.

Love it or loathe it, British Gas is a well-established brand with a massive customer base and whether they supply your energy, fix your boiler or maintain your heating, I think it’s fair to say that you don’t think about them offering painting, decorating or handyman services.

Yet in 2017, they launched Local Heroes, an online platform that helps you find a tradesperson in your local area.

Last year I bought some new light fittings for my bedroom. And I did what any self-respecting male would do, I decided to fit them myself.

Fast-forward a couple of hours and the lights in the bathroom wouldn’t turn on and the newly installed light in the bedroom wouldn’t switch off. Faced with the prospect of having to turn the entire first floor’s lighting off at the fuse board, I needed to find an electrician quickly.

I didn’t know any local sparkies and having watched too many episodes of BBC’s Rogue Traders, I was hesitant about calling out any old Tom, Dick or Sally.

So, I went onto Local Heroes. I submitted a few details and within a few clicks had an indicative price for the job using one of their vetted tradespeople.

Happy with this, I submitted a few more details about the job and indicated the best time of day for me to be contacted and for the job to be done.

Within a matter of hours, everything was fixed.

Local Heroes works well for a number of reasons. Their website is very good at promoting trust and assurance. It is backed by a well-known brand, this automatically offers assurance to the visitor, especially in an area where it may be a distress purchase (like law) or comes with a reputation for cowboys. The prominence of Trustpilot reviews demonstrates that people rate the service highly.

Not only did Local Heroes help me overcome my Rogue Traders fears, but it fit perfectly into the convenience factor and reflected current buyer behaviour.

My lighting issue occurred on a Sunday evening, but I was able to go online and arrange everything. I received updates via email and text on the status of my quote request. Even receiving messages that it was taking a little longer than planned to find the right electrician for my job.

The electrician came when they said they would and charged me what they said they would.

They managed my expectations throughout and at the end of it I was satisfied enough to leave a review and would use them again in the future.

So, how is this story relevant to law firms?

Well, it’s reflective of changing buyer behaviour. And I think it should be of real concern to law firms that they are not evolving quickly enough to meet this change.

Our 2019 white paper mirrors the research we did last year. However, this year we paid attention to how well law firms deal with enquiries outside the conventional 9 to 5 working day and whether they are utilising tools such as Facebook and online chat to allow clients to engage with them.

Interestingly, we had originally wanted to mystery shop law firms on how well they used live chat (during normal working hours) but this soon became a non-starter because not enough firms (less than 10%) had this function.

Stunning really when you think about the consumer environment in which we now all operate in. 

Our research found that two-thirds of shoppers who called firms after office hours and left a message did not receive a call back, while a third of shoppers who tried to contact firms via their Facebook pages did not receive a reply.

I’m astounded at how much potential new business law firms are ignoring.

From our own experience at First4Lawyers, out of hours leads have the highest propensity to turn into a client. So, if you’re not geared up to manage these leads or respond to potential clients via other routes to market then you are missing out on prospective business.

And with the small claims and whiplash reforms looming, estimates suggest there will be anything up to 400,000 fewer claims per year.

As such, the reality for firms is that they will need to focus on higher value EL claims. Sounds easy enough, right? But it is one of the toughest sectors in the market.

Less than 1 in 10 personal injury searches are EL related. And more people are searching outside normal working hours than wider PI searches. 20% of all EL searches happen between 5pm and 9pm and 49% of all EL searches are outside typical working hours.

It is a fiercely expensive area to advertise in with cost per click running at 65% higher and cost per lead 42% higher than more generic search terms. There are also 40% more advertisers in this area than there were last year.

Here’s another sobering thought. Only half of our EL enquiries come from EL search terms therefore, you can’t ignore other search terms because that is where the volume is. More generic search terms are what also drive lower value and whiplash claims. Most potential customers won’t realise the reforms are in place and will still be searching and enquiring.

This will cause firms pain and expense because they will still have to manage the initial enquiry at a marketing and resource cost.

This therefore reiterates the importance of embracing and engaging with potential clients in the hours that suit them and the communication channels they want to use.

So far, the legal sector has remained relatively unscathed by disruptors. You only need read the message boards on the Law Society Gazette to see the profession regards any form of technical innovation with derision. And often most of these innovations have failed because law firms won’t embrace them rather than because of a lack of consumer demand.

But don’t be fooled – the power of the consumer is strong, and it won’t be long before a disruptor does conquer the legal sector.

NB: Since Andy gave his presentation, Amazon has dipped its toe in the legal services market, announcing a new venture linking law firms with businesses seeking to obtain intellectual property rights. The disruptors are coming…



It seems you are using an outdated browser.

This will impair your browsing experience around the web. Please visit one of the links below to update to a modern browser then re-open the site with the new browser.

Thank you

Our brand new industry white paper has launched

Do you know what drives consumers to choose your law firm?

Click here to download

By submitting an enquiry to First4Lawyers you agree to the terms and conditions of service outlined in our privacy policy


Can't find what you are looking for?

We are open as normal during the Coronavirus lockdown and are able to help with all your legal needs.

Call us free of charge

0800 567 7866

Request a Callback

Continue browsing