I have been playing around with this idea but I am not sure there is a comparable model that would provide a road map – School League Tables or Hospital performance tables are the two systems that come to mind.
I think my idea is to have some performance indicators on a firm’s website to show the likely outcomes of particular types of work.
Perhaps you could have timings to show how long it took for the last 30-50 sale(s)/purchase(s), providing the average price and some idea of the post codes or local authorities was included.
What would a client take out of this?
Well there would certainly be *value*: Clients would have a much better expectation of the mean time it took to complete and there might be less reluctance on the part of the law firms to offer predictive information or to go down the rather negative route of sucking lemons and saying something along the lines of “we can’t really say”.
Also, it might open up the opportunity for firms to look at offering a tiered pricing structure linked to the timings. In other words, a no frills service where the KPI was linked to saying that we will complete in no longer than x weeks of the mean time. Then again there might be an opportunity to offer a premium service which looked at a bells and whistle service where you were offered some guarantee element if you missed the deadline. Perhaps a % discount off of the fee for every day that you went over completion day.
These are clearly direct components but there would be more ethereal aspects to it where the firm could look to build their PR, advertising, marketing and MARCOMS around the data. There is usually some news that is generated around client or market data and in the current climate the more transparent a firm was or aspired to be the more they are going to Influence their existing network to generate work by word of mouth.
It might also provide some data for performance review or assessment of work flow across the teams if some people were able to meet the mean whereas others were missing the timings. In a way this is rooted in the idea of quality service. You know the sort of mantra where people are prepared to put their money where their mouth is if things go wrong.
Again, the sort of information for the more mundane and or routine work would be very saleable to business owners, particularly if there was some indication of the costs involved. Of course, each case is different but surely not so much so that firms could not caveat the data.
There is an imperative with this area, namely the fact that over time as legal process outsourcing starts to play a bigger part in corporate work and more providers emerge in the market who offer standardised, on-line provision with a high degree of certainly over costs then absent a firm investing in the software to compete then having this sort of data (even if rather crudely assembled in the early days with lots of caveats) will at least enable firms to start looking at the profitability of the work and how it is resourced.
Much of the same issues will apply as corporate. But perhaps more than that, especially for the Applicant market, to have some idea of the timing of certain remedies and the costs involved is going to take some of the stress out of the process, even if you have to regularly update your data. But if you have worked out the averages for certain work, you might again use this, save in time critical cases before the Employment Tribunal, to think about the tiered service.
You might have arrived at this point in the post and being saying to yourself that all of this sounds complete nonsense. OK but what would you do? Nothing seems to be the order of the day. But whatever way you cut the cake, going forward, if you really cherish your clients and want to distinguish yourself in a crowded market, then surely opening up your data is very likely to give you a Unique Selling Proposition. You could go further and investigate the ability of your clients to access their cases remotely to check on the state of play. Now I know a lot of lawyers are uncomfortable about this but all I am talking about is a status update. This is pretty basic information. You know no different to the way you can track a package on Amazon or look at the latest details on your bank account (as a matter of interest my own bank has introduced more functionality to make comparison and financial management easier).
I am naturally a curious person and whilst some clients may not care less about benchmarking data, providing the price they offer is appropriate, my suspicion is that going forward if you are willing to start giving concrete information on timings, costings, status and completion you are going to attract clients to you on the basis, if nothing else, that they trust you more than they do the other firm down the road. Also, it might just enable you to start leveraging your brand identity, offering different approaches to pricing and doing something that is remarkable.
I would love to know what you think. An idea worth exploring or a waste of effort/time?
PS. Throw in a big social media dynamic – or indexing – and I can see this being very powerful.
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