Creating digital experiences that improve your law firm and make customers happy sounds like an epic task. In some ways it is, but really it’s the result of logical development, conscientious testing, and good measures.
This article will show you why, when you start from scratch, it takes time and persistence. It will show you how and why the best digital experiences are two-sided wins. And you also get a deep-dive case study from Brutal Pixie’s archives that shows you exactly what this means.
By the end of your time here, you will have some good ideas about how your law firm can start moving in this direction.
Digital experiences start with websites that enable people to take action on a thing
Whatever it is that the visitor is looking for, something on your website draws them to you. Very often it is a name or content keyword match, which pulls people from search results. In other cases, it is a result of content posted elsewhere. That might be a link in a directory, a post on Facebook, or a slide deck on LinkedIn.
This is important to remember. Your “user” is a real person, and he or she is trying to achieve something. As Jeffrey Gitomer so very succinctly puts it, When was the last time you said, “honey, let’s go and be sold a car”?
To be truly valuable to people, you must have the capacity to see your offering through their eyes. Would you choose to buy from you?
Great digital experiences are Two-Way Wins
If you are helpful and memorable, and find a way to keep a visitor connected to you, both you and the other person win. If you achieve this without putting stumbling blocks in the person’s way, or your own way, then you’re on to a winning digital experience recipe.
Getting smart about digital means abandoning a selfish mindset. That’s why we here at Brutal Pixie always talk about People Before Bots. This means having a problem-solving, serving attitude; and solving real problems before you optimise. In other words:
- People before bots
- Customers before yourself.
Phew! I hear you sigh. That’s a lot of stuff! Sure, this feels hard for you right now if you’re not already doing it. But truly it is NOT hard to do this kind of thing. It just takes persistence, particularly in law, which as an industry and a profession is highly dollar- and self- focused when it comes to business.
It’s actually an issue of mindset more than anything else, and some lawyers may benefit from coaching to reorient this.
Law is changing under your feet
If you’re feeling judged right now, it’s a sign. It’s the accumulation of superhuman hours in a system that is focused on earning money in tiny little increments of time. Many law firms will seriously struggle to stop thinking about themselves and to focus on the consumer. The key is to understand that law as a profession is a servant of the community.
This gives you scope to take advantage of the enormous opportunities in front of you. Gone are the days of the mysterious knowledge of the lawyer. Customers are close to mainlining information during every waking moment.
While it’s true that lawyers have a huge amount of knowledge in specific areas of the law — and a greater understanding of how to navigate these boundaries of society — it’s no longer in your best interest to keep the workings of law hidden. You will achieve more — and faster — by shifting your mindset than you will by chasing endless marketing channels.
Now, if you don’t have a website or a blog yet, then you might not get much out of this article. It’s written for people who are already in the digital water and want to know how to maximise that effort.
To craft great digital experiences, you have two initial jobs to do
The first is to really listen to the questions being asked of your teams, however they are being asked: Phone, email, in person. Collect them, collate them. Chances are, there is a whole lot of repetitive questioning going on that you could free your team from dealing with.
Then, start writing singular, simple blogs on those exact topics and test how they perform against the material you think you should be publishing.
This will do two things for you. Firstly, it will generate articles for you from a pre-existing need. Secondly, it will show you how helping clients and not-yet-clients can be more valuable than you trying to be ahead of them.
The second is to uncover your customer service workflow. What do your administrators complain about? What kinds of dealings annoy them, take up time, or are unnecessary? This is a clue to what can inform the creation of the law firm-side of the digital experiences.
You might be wondering right now how this all works to create excellent digital experiences? You will get the answer to this question in the case study below.
Case study: Richard Timpson Solicitors
This case study gives you insight into how one small law firm went from no publishing to warm, connected customer experiences as well as information products that now act as secondary revenue streams.
Brutal Pixie worked with Richard Timpson Solicitors in some capacity for over three years. They were in fact one of the first Pixie clients in the company’s current form. Richard Timpson Solicitors is an immigration law firm, and this year they “graduated” from Brutal Pixie’s service, having become sufficiently skilled and knowledgeable to take their content in hand themselves.
Where they are now is a really long way from where they were three years ago.
In the early days, Brutal Pixie helped Richard Timpson Solicitors establish a website. And then, a blog. And then, social media. And then a culmination of content creation, publishing, and sharing. In the past three years, this has been a consistent and persistent effort. For a long time, the publishing schedule was weekly, which gradually increased the traffic going in their direction. The content creation and sharing created a condition of long, slow growth.
Because of the experimental mindset of the firm, changing activities that were not performing was just a given. This is how the publishing schedule grew: From one blog per month, to one per fortnight, to one per week, and then scaling back as the right recipe for high value material was finally unearthed and repeated, supported by long-term data collection.
During this time, the business strategy of the firm evolved. In the beginning, it was a one-lawyer firm and that one lawyer resisted many of the changes being suggested by non-lawyer management. Three years is a long time in small business, but the evolution in that time can be staggering.
For Richard Timpson Solicitors, the firm’s purpose gradually clarified itself. With it came an understanding of the clients that they were really keen to get on board, and the in-house workflows they were using to get them there. Where they initially had no real sense of demographics, and no data — and hadn’t even had analytics turned on! — by the time they left they had real clarity about who they were serving, how they were serving them, and why.
While at the time it all felt like a lot of grinding, the data shows a different story. Not only did traffic increase, but so did the engagement of their visitors. Importantly, their conversions increased, contributing financially to the bottom line of the firm.
This is why you need to let things run.
In the beginning, unless you have super clear measurement for all your business metrics, you have to let things run to find out what people find valuable. And you need to track all sorts of data to discover it, maximise it and amplify it.
Also, the context is important.
The context of your business is always important
It is especially important in reverse-engineering successes like this one.
At the time at which this firm’s publishing was finding its feet, the Australian Government made significant changes to the health systems related to visa applications. That new system — eMedical — was being rolled out. There were changes to the health checks framework (called a matrix), there were changes to the medical services provider, changes to timeframes… a whole lot of things happened all at once.
Where before Brutal Pixie was involved the firm would have published a very small article about each little thing, often just along the lines of emails they received, we made the strategic decision to keep all the information in one, continually updated article. As new information came to light, it was added to the top, timestamped, and all the other entries followed it.
The result was that it started getting a huge amount of traffic. It started to rank alongside — or above — the Department of Health, Medicare, and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. You can see the page here.
The result? Traffic went up, and the engagement was high. People would go to the website, read it in depth, and then either go away or call the firm with questions, following the call to action.
The trouble is, more traffic isn’t always good news. And more calls aren’t always good news. Remember, the law firm’s market were people whose first language was (most of the time) not English. A number of people assumed that the firm could help them with their health checks. Others assumed they were the Department of Health!
Wow, right? Well, yes — in a way. But let’s look at the reasons:
- During this time of flux, people simply could not find the information that they needed
- Richard Timpson Solicitors appeared to be the only one publishing this information regularly
- The information was written simply and clearly
- Clarity from places like the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and Medicare was impossible.
So the people turned to Richard Timpson Solicitors. This is clear demonstration that just doing what other people do is not valuable. Keeping abreast of publishing trends in your area is always time well spent!
The frustration inside the firm at this time was high. Sure, the phone was ringing, but they weren’t people adding value to the firm! Spending time dealing with these people wasn’t useful. And even though the article is still one of the most popular articles on the firm’s site, most of the traffic was just skating off the top.
Enter: The lead magnet
It’s easy to assume that people think about lead magnets magically and just know to put them in place. In Brutal Pixie’s experience, the best lead magnets come from a real need. When there’s a need, you know it’s relevant, and when it’s relevant, it works. And in this case, the need was making itself evident every day of the week.
It’s how the eMedical Tip Sheet was born.
Key information, and contacts and phone numbers were put into a branded, downloadable file. It was used as a lead capture.
This way, the firm gained the benefit of this traffic, by collecting details of people who were qualified. And the people gained the benefit of the information they needed, including all the phone numbers they might want later, so that they could solve their immediate problems. This is what it looks like now:
This takes advantage of the simplest of automations. Whether it works to lift the bottom line of the firm is then up to the firm to assess, in terms of its sales activity.
Client on-boarding: An unlikely two-sided, content-driven win?
One win sparks all kinds of innovative thinking about others. The next big thing was client on-boarding workflow.
As one of Queensland’s foremost immigration specialists, Richard Timpson requires a lot of information from people to know whether or not he can help them. For a long time, the firm was doing all of the initial verification and screening in person. Remember, Richard was the only lawyer at the time.
This had a down-flow effect meaning that their key revenue earner wasn’t being used in the best possible way.
The other issues were:
- that tyre-kickers (as they became known) wanted the consultations for free
- very often the initial consultations would fizzle and not turn into a sale
- very often the consult would require follow-up to get more data
- … and so on.
Additionally, from the customer’s perspective it didn’t really add any value. The whole process was pretty well, “come in and we’ll see what your problem is, and from there we’ll see how we can help you”. Customers were coming in with a problem, and leaving with work to do, and still holding their problems.
But after having the experience of seeing the lift in pressure as a result of the lead magnet, and the drop in unnecessary questions, the firm was keen to see how this clunky customer experience could be improved. This is how we started collaborating with them on an extensive and automated questionnaire system.
One simple questionnaire changed the initial customer experience
Initially, prospects were sent the questionnaire link by email. But once the team got a greater sense of its workflow and customer sensibilities, they began seeking a specific, personal customer experience. They wanted one that would make the clients feel (and stay) connected, valued, important, while also solving the serious in-firm problem of information collation and checking.
The idea of the questionnaire changed the question. Instead of, how can we qualify these people it became how can we make the flow more efficient.
The questionnaire proved extremely valuable for the team. So did the automated communication around its submission, especially in terms of setting prospective client expectations. It meant that this initial stage of information gathering could be handled by administrators, rather than lawyers. It meant that anything missing could be handled by administrators rather than lawyers. And it meant also that the lawyers had a complete set of information to read through before meeting with the client.
You know what this means, don’t you? The meeting turned from ‘what’s your problem’ to ‘here’s your solution’. The client walked out with a real, meaningful plan, knowing that his or her information had already been digested.
Again, two-sided win.
The first solution is rarely the best solution. It’s a doorway
On its own, it’s not exactly a prize-winning user experience. Many factors came together over the following year to conspire to improve it.
One of those things was Brutal Pixie’s improving ability to predict high value content, as a result of data collection and analysis.
The high value content was high value to the end-user because it answered questions that come up throughout the client’s lifetime with the firm. Depending on the client’s stage of application, different questions arise, and types of information become more valuable. This all went into this private online space, which clients could access as and when they want or need to.
Secondly, the waiting time between appointments is something that can alienate law clients. While it might be boring if you were to watch it in a video, it’s preparation time that clients don’t see as anything except a long, long gap.
Long gaps mean that knowledge isn’t being shared; lack of knowledge results in anxiety; anxiety turns into phone calls ‘checking up’ on where things are. It’s real complexity, and needs to be acknowledged! It’s an indication that your firm isn’t thinking about its customers enough when this happens. So if your face is red right now, it’s a sign that you have to get proactive about your communications.
Real customer focus means solving problems of alienation. This firm did it with content.
Anyway. All of us put our heads together to find out how we could make the client’s experience less isolating during what can be a difficult time. That isolation was adding pressure to the law firm to deal with additional calls or emails that ultimately may not have been necessary.
This is partly how Richard Timpson Solicitors came to build a section of their website that mimicked a member website. Brutal Pixie helped the law firm to understand where the human interaction needed to take place, and where the digital experience could amplify the good parts of that. Then, our team worked with the firm to put it in place.
The result has been a central, privately accessed area of the website where clients can submit their questionnaire, and read information that is relevant to them. There is enough information in those hidden areas of the website that the clients could — and do — spend a lot of time there.
The automation sequences of the questionnaire help the clients to remain connected.
Automation inspires automation
One level of content automation inspires others, because the wins in terms of efficiency create opportunities for even greater efficiency. So, once the automation was in place, there became opportunities to add sequences elsewhere.
Of particular note is that the client communications, which once were reactive, are now proactive. Responding to information put into a database by the law firm’s team (the same database into which the questionnaire information drops), clients receive proactive communications. Those emails anticipate their need to hear about what is going on with their matters.
The email sequences are not insignificant. They stretch out to something like two years — maybe more! The only reason the sequences will stop is if the timeframe goes on for much longer than history shows is likely. Or, the client’s matter is resolved sooner.
The up-front investment in the time and content to get this right is significant. But the payoff is that nobody has to remember to send emails on any given date: The system does it for them. Humans are fallible, memories are thin, and sending update emails does not add value to the team. It does add value to the client.
Again: Win, win.
Remember that note way up the top of this article about changing to a customer-focused mindset? You simply can’t achieve this level of communication system unless you are already in that mindset. You will just face battles from your partners until they make this shift.
Richard Timpson’s clients now have a warm, caring digital experience
It’s an experience that is reflected in their extremely positive client feedback. Yet creating this personable, enriching experience doesn’t add time to the daily grind. What it does is enable the legal team to spend more time doing what it does best: Lawyering.
This is how you go from blogs to high value experiences. It’s not something that happens overnight. But it is something that even the smallest law firm can achieve with the right help. In the case of this particular client, Brutal Pixie started right at the beginning. They had no blogs, they didn’t like the idea of sending emails, they didn’t have any data.
And yet here they are today, leagues ahead of other firms in their field in terms of great customer experiences. And they are developing new and better ways of creating income: Income that doesn’t rely on people.
The long-term impact of this shift is significant
The firm is expanding, and they are now employing more people. They have more lawyers, which, in a regional economy of Queensland adds positively to the local community. Since working with Brutal Pixie, and a range of complementary providers, the firm’s team is leagues ahead of its peers.
Some examples are that they have started developing information products, and automating other areas of their business. They work in a highly agile way, which is a far cry from the reactive way they used to work. They have adopted workflow methods that mimic high performance software teams. They have more clients of the kind they really want to work with, and their clients are happier. The lawyers are on board with content and what it can do for them (and how to do it themselves!) and — truly — life is peachy.
It looks amazing now, but at the time it was just hard work
Things that are worthwhile doing are rarely easy. But the change it has made to the lives of the team, and their customers, has been dramatic. Now, their clients feel connected and cared for, from the very first contact.
Their non-customers — the ‘tyre kickers’ who travel into the site and bounce away, can take valuable information with them, which in turn lifts the firm’s value in their eyes. And more importantly, they stay connected, enabling the firm to capitalise on that interaction.
Given time, the secondary revenue streams will simply enable the firm to go on to achieve even bigger things.
All of these things began because content was given its rightful value
They started because the firm understood that communication and content was critical. And they understood that technology is something that they can embrace, and that will help them to achieve their lifestyle goals.
It’s not impossible. But it takes time, persistence, and the right team. All things that you already have.