The service industry is by far and away the largest sector of the UK economy. For many years the legal industry would not have fallen into this category as it is traditionally perceived as acting to advance its own interests and not having the clients interests at heart. Over the last ten years the property/conveyancing sector of law has become densely saturated with many new practices entering the industry. The introduction of bulk conveyancing practices has certainly increased competition amongst firms and has made harder for high street practices of a more traditional background. It is questionable as to whether these types of legal providers are the best option for the clients. Feed back from clients who have used them all points to a lack of service.
The presence of these bulk conveyancing practices never the less has meant high street practices are now having no choice but to step up service levels. These practices are now coming to the conclusion that offering the client a personal one-one service is equally as important as the solicitors’ legal knowledge. Through unique approaches, practices are now moving forward to meet the expectations of clients and continue to push the level of service within the sector.
Navinder Singh, one of our most experienced solicitors explains:
“We looked carefully at what the client went through during property transactions and ways in which we could improve the client’s experience. The main aspect that we found clients wanted throughout their transaction was simply communication. The ability to be in contact with their chosen solicitor at any given time. We have come to understand clients fears during the property transaction and the undue stress that results from minimal communication which many of the bulk conveyancers/ property practices provide. The model that we have looked to implement can only work in an environment where we do not entertain working for bulk numbers of clients. It is our simple belief that the more transactions you deal with at any one time, the less the service you provide to the client in both legal terms and from a service perspective.”
Navinder also highlighted an innovative approach to providing high levels of client care, which includes the ability for clients to contact the solicitor dealing with the matter directly on their personal mobile numbers and being able to visit clients at their own properties or estate agents in order to sign and collect paperwork or to simply explain paperwork to the client. It has been suggested that by providing these additional services the profession is being devalued. However Navinder Singh disagrees;
“It is our strong belief that this is not the case and that this level of service will in time add value to what we as solicitors do. By doing this we have seen a positive effect on the clients in that it reassures them that they will always be able to get in touch with their solicitor.”
When it comes to fees, the natural thing for most clients to do when looking for a solicitor is to look for the cheapest possible quote. A term often used when purchasing a property is caveat emptor (buyer beware). This principle certainly applies for both buyers and sellers when searching for your solicitor. Beware of cheaper quotes as what you will find is that the service falls below what the client would expect. This is because many of these firms are volume based. A model that has proven successful is one that works on the basis that clients are quoted as up front as possible from the start. It is inevitable that some additional fees for unforeseen work may arise. However in quoting clients, solicitors have to be very conscious that the end bill is not out of sync with what has been initially quoted. In working in such a manner solicitors are not looking only at the short term relationship with clients but to also establish long term relationships with them.
It is believed that the sector is coming into a period of transition in the way that clients perceive their solicitors and the way in which practices work. It is hoped that implementing small and some wider ranging changes in high street practices will raise the bar in terms of service levels being provided to clients.