Industry Updates, Thought Leadership

Qamar Anwar, managing director, comments on yesterday’s Consumer Impact Report from The Legal Services Consumer Panel

2 minutes

Qamar Anwar, managing director, March 20, 2020

Commenting on yesterday’s Consumer Impact Report from The Legal Services Consumer Panel Qamar Anwar, managing director, First4Lawyers says:

“We welcome today’s report which further highlights the lack of progress being made in the sector towards increasing transparency for consumers.

“We fully support the recommendations for regulators to require providers to publish specific information on price and quality to help inform decision making by the consumer, or for the regulators to collate the information themselves and consider how to present that.

“It is shocking to see that despite recommendations being made by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as far back as 2016, that just 2% of consumers used price comparison sites in 2019 to choose a legal services provider, unchanged since 2014. The report also highlights that the percentage of consumers who say it is easy to make price comparisons between providers has fallen from 58% in 2018 to 38% in 2019.

“Increased transparency around price comparison and quality of service indicators are vital in this sector. A key consideration for success needs to be the format in which information is displayed for legal services. Unlike its more successful counterparts, utilities and insurance, it is very difficult to provide ‘instant pricing’, and this has been a hurdle. However, firms do still need to help the consumer find a price, and the ideal system should prompt specific questions based on the legal matter required to gain enough information to provide an indicative price at least.

“Seemingly, only 16% of those searching for accident or injury advice use a comparison site and yet personal injury claims advice is an area where indicative pricing shouldn’t be too difficult to display due to the nature of the claims process, where general damage compensation levels are set depending on the type of injury sustained.

“Another untapped area in the drive for greater transparency is review and feedback sites, the Legal Services Board is looking at this right now. Despite many lawyers concerns that they only attract negative comments from unhappy clients, this often isn’t the case. A 2017 report by Podium found that online reviews impact purchasing decisions for over 93% of consumers, and 68% are willing to pay up to 15% more for the same product or service if they are assured they will have a better experience.

“With the direction of travel clear, transparency could be a good business development tool for firms in a very challenging operating environment.”

 

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