14 Jul Service guarantees – are you serious?
Most solicitors would run a mile from service guarantees. They’d strongly caution their clients against offering them, and very few solicitors use them for themselves.
Why? Well they’re a risk. (and risk is bad!)
What if somebody takes the option of complaining? You’d have to do more work, reduce your fees (write off your fees?) or generally grovel. Bad!
(Actually its not bad at all. organisations who offer service guarantees can tell you that cleaning things up after initial client dissatisfaction is one of the best opportunities to turn clients into raving fans. The benefits in terms of referrals and subsequent positive reputation can be significant).
Worth the risk?
And are they really such a risk?
In reality, if a client expresses dissatisfaction or has a legitimate complaint, a practice would and should still re-do work where necessary or reduce the bill. This is commonplace and practices do this even though they don’t gain from the promotional and differentiation benefits of offering a service guarantee. So why accept the negatives without the positives?
Ah! But what about the opportunistic clients who would dishonestly claim dissatisfaction, and therefore a discount or write-off just to save themselves money? Yes, again, this is a risk – but are these the types of clients you work with? Do you trust your clients so little? One of the benefits of offering a service guarantee is that it would almost certainly force you to be more selective about which clients you accepted instructions from.
And why should the trust and the risk be all on one side? Without a service guarantee, the client is taking all the risk in the relationship. They don’t like that. Why not add value by sharing the risk more equally.
The benefits outweigh the risks.
In a profession/industry where differentiation is so difficult, the vast majority of law practices make some sort of claim of superior client service or customer experience. As I’ve written before, clients treat most of these claims with the dismissive cynicism they deserve – so if client service or the customer experience is your practice’s last best stab at differentiation, why not take a punt, put your money where your mouth is, and offer a service guarantee?
The potential benefits include:
- genuine noteworthy differentiation
- it’s easier to close -because the client’s taking less of a risk, and your confidence fills them with confidence
- it allows you to charge more – if you are accepting more risk, you are adding client value – and you can charge for that!
- better client engagement selection discipline (which you needed anyway)
- better focus and discipline on client satisfaction (which you needed anyway). You might even start measuring client satisfaction properly!
- service guarantees encourage disappointed clients to voice their dissatisfaction rather than just walking away – and yes, that’s a good thing!