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February 13, 2004

Customer-centricity for Law Firms

Can law firms be more customer-centric? My first exposure to that term comes from this post on Chris Lawer's Creating Positive Context weblog. Chris says:

[By] thinking broadly about the challenges people face, rather than narrowly about what firms can sell them, new ways to make their lives easier and their decisions simpler can almost always be found. Individual-centric customer innovating businesses understand this and aim to overcome these challenges. They focus on creating a more positive brand, marketing and customer context; one that reconfigures mostly intangible (and hitherto unrecognised) aspects of people’s needs and problems into new forms of social, relational and brand capital. These intangible value dimensions include new drivers such as time, attention, knowledge, uncertainty, trust, privacy, personal productivity and simplicity.
Though a bit heavy on business-speak, Chris' ideas dovetail with my thoughts on value billing that I've been trying to articulate in this weblog. By focusing on those "intangible value dimensions" important to my customers (trust, certainty, security), I am hoping to build a lasting legal relationship with them that isn't tied to the time I spend working on their individual matters, but rather the value they get from me. Chris continues:
By viewing markets from an explicit individual value perspective . . . customer innovating organisations are able to locate and address the new intangible forms of customer value. ... [B]y shifting from a world view of an assembler or value-added player in part of a supply- (or demand) -chain to one of becoming a nodal or partner player in an enhanced interactive positive context customer value network, the opportunity to identify, define and unlock new forms of holistic customer and business value are simply, huge.
I think Chris is right on. We lawyers need to concentrate on the value of our services to our customers. Finding the "price" of that value is never going to be easy (I'll post more later on my efforts to "zero-in" on the price I'll charge for certain legal services), but begin by asking a potential or existing client, "What do you think X would be worth to you?" And remember, "X" is not a contract, will, or deed, but rather peace of mind, security, or some other intengible benefit tied to the specific legal service you'll be providing.


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