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When thinking about offing more value to your clients, there are two main questions to ask: What services should you be making available and how much investment of potential non-chargeable time should you be putting into each client?
Investing time and cash into providing added value services will inevitably reduce the overall profitability of that client relationship. When investing, you want to be smart and put your time into the firm’s key clients, such as those who currently generate the greatest billings and profits, or where there is the greatest potential to grow income.
Kevin Wheeler, business consultant and coach suggests investing ‘up to 5% of total billings in providing such services to key clients’, but he warns to ‘make sure that all members of the team record their non-chargeable time invested in each client in this way’. The outcome of this means the investment can be monitored and ROI analysis can be carried out.
There are many different services that you could choose to provide to add value to your clients. Some of the key activities we’ve identified include:
Law firms all over the globe offer legal updates and newsletters to their clients—especially in a digital age, it’s almost expected! However, to stand out from the crowd we suggest creating bespoke updates for each of your key clients. This simple cut and paste of relevant information from your practice area or sector updates, can really make a difference. Giving you the chance deliver just the information and insights your client needs to do their jobs more effectively.
This is another way to tailor your content for an individual client to make them feel valued. In doing so you could take your seminars out on the road to a client’s premises and only include the material that is vital to them. As well as this, it may be useful to run training sessions for the client’s staff, again on their premises, to update them on the latest legal and regulatory requirements facing their organisation/industry and how to deal with these.
In sending staff on secondment to a client, there are two main benefits: not only does the client get additional in-house legal resource, but the firm also receives the added insight of better understanding a client’s business by having one of its lawyers working full-time in-house.
Although you would usually only be providing junior lawyers to your clients, doing it for free may not be within your reach. Wheeler suggests charging an amount which will cover the lawyer’s salary and other employment costs. He says: ‘This will be far less than charging the lawyer’s full hourly rate and, therefore, should still be advantageous to the client.’
Conducting a discussion about your client’s industry can show them how committed you are. By setting up an industry forum you can bring together industry players—such as representatives from your key client(s)—to discuss important developments across the industry and how to deal with these will place your firm and its lawyers at the centre of your client’s world.
Wheeler says, showing your clients you have an insight into up-coming issues (not just legal) which will be impacting on an industry, including how organisations are planning to deal with these issues, can help you stand out from the crowd.
Thought Leadership reports can help drive discussions with key clients on their preparedness for change and to benchmark their practices against other industry participants.
Wheeler identifies that ‘increasingly, law firms are embracing Thought Leadership, taking a lead from the Big 4 accountants who have been doing this for years’. However, he notes that while there are a lot of surveys around, ‘often one-offs, there is little true Thought Leadership coming from law firms, if only because Thought Leadership must be sustained over a prolonged period to be effective’.
Don’t forget to always consult your client to identify what ways they would benefit most from your value add services.
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Hannah is one of the Future of Law blog’s digital and technical editors. She graduated from Northumbria University with a degree in History and Politics and previously freelanced for News UK, before working as a senior news editor for LexisNexis.
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