When a client selects and works with a law firm they do this based on a number of criteria, depending on their needs. The technical ability of the legal team and experience of the lawyers is typically crucial. But in an increasingly competitive market the client looks to additional factors to distinguish between firms. Client service is one of these.
Clients will get a feel for how it would be to work with a firm. Part of this impression is gained through contact with any and all of the people they interact with in the firm; receptionists; IT people; Secretaries and PAs. Even if a client has worked with the firm previously they may not have worked on this type of transaction, or with this practice area, or with these people.
The interaction with the team who might be handling the work is part of the decision making criteria.
Step out of this market for a moment and look what has happened elsewhere. Products and services which compete on price, such as insurance or utility companies, make a noise about having call centres in the UK. Why? Because they know customers can get the impression of a better service. The customer may even pay a slight premium for the perceived ease of talking on the phone to the supplier based in UK. Service matters even when price is the main decision making criteria.
Going back to the law firm, an intrinsic part of the service law firms’ offer is delivered by the secretary. Particularly when the client cannot get hold of the lawyer because they are in a closing or another meeting, how the secretary handles the client is vital. The client might need a particular document, or an updated version required for a client meeting, or they need the location of a meeting. These are all important service needs which can be professionally and expertly delivered by the PA or Secretary.
Does the client really notice? Ask any client which firm, or practice area has the best secretarial support and they will tell you. They notice because when the service is not there it creates inefficiency, but when it is there things run smoothly, just how they like it.
The PA’s / Secretary’s’ role is a vital part of the delivery of service. How to deliver this service will be looked at in future posts.