Communication, Communication, Communication
For an estate agent marketing a property there’s a catch phrase that you will all be familiar with, “Location, Location, Location.”
For solicitors providing conveyancing services, should theirs be “Communication, Communication, Communication.”
The residential property market has changed significantly over the past few years. We have moved from too much property stock and prices falling, to increasing prices and a limited supply of houses. Admittedly there are regional variations, but in the main, property is selling.
During the quiet times we saw many skilled and experienced conveyancers re-train and move to other areas of law. Some firms even decided to move away from conveyancing and the risk that comes with it altogether. This has had a significant impact on the supply of conveyancing services and the challenges it faces with ever increasing demands on those still in a position to assist.
It is clear that efficient processes and IT backed workflows will enable firms to provide support to greater numbers of clients without the need for more resources. However, the focus on legal excellence and slick processes may have lead to a decline in some of the ‘basic customer service’ type activities.
A couple of months ago I looked at feedback from one of our introducers regarding their impression of a conveyancing solicitor local to them. It was fair to say that the feedback didn’t make for great reading and was not something that the firm would have wished to publicise. Great affront had been taken by the solicitors, given that in their opinion they had done a great job. But they had really missed the point. It wasn’t their ability to perform the legal task that was being criticised; when translated, the complaints related to poor communication.
Clients need to feel that they are in control, and quite right. I would agree that a rather naive view regarding what is possible to be done within a particular timeframe is often taken, however, when expectations are set correctly, communication in a manner that can be understood by the lay person is offered, opinions can be changed dramatically for the better.
After a six week period, following a review of communication practices and SLA’s for the conveyancing team at the firm, feedback and opinion from that same introducer and its customers increased from a 2 to a 7 out of 10. I am confident that it will continue to rise as new behaviours are formed.
Many legal teams are under real time pressures at the moment. But I can assure you that when a customer feels that they are not in control (translated as – doesn’t know what is happening), the volume of chasing type calls from the client and estate agents will increase dramatically. Solicitors are then stuck defending themselves rather than completing important tasks, and the downward spiral ensues.
Should updates take a traditional route, a telephone call that invariably takes too long? Or would an IT backed solution be the answer?
We support our law firms during conveyancing transactions as clients are offered Navigator. Navigator is an online conveyancing platform, putting clients at the heart of the transaction. They feel more in control of their destiny, given that documents are completed in bite sized chunks online, packaged up in to CQS compliant PDF documents and delivered directly to the case handler. The system also provides regular updates and clearly visible milestone markers, both of which are completed without distracting the solicitor providing the service, but serve to keep all parties appraised of progress being made.
We also provide a white labelled conveyancing sales conversion centre to our introducers. This enables firms to direct their customers’ calls to a dedicated team whose sole purpose is to professionally engage with prospective customers, sell conveyancing services and win new business. This not only provides a better conversion rate, but it also helps to cut down the number of distractions that are traditionally directed at the firms’ conveyancing team. No more “can you hold a moment and I’ll see if I can put you through to someone who can help (begrudgingly).” Clients are able to speak to the right person until 8:30pm Monday to Thursday, to 5:30pm on a Friday and 3:00pm on a Saturday.
We continue to look at ways to further improve the service experienced by clients using firms that we work with. Communication is something that is core to many solutions. Improvements in communication will have a dramatic impact on how a firm is perceived by the home moving public and introducers alike.
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