What will you need to do to make sure you are in tune with your clients’ new demands?

Have you noticed a slight change in the tone of the comments being made by the partners and directors leading our law and accountancy firms?

When I listen to them talk or reading their perspectives on the current crisis, it really feels like we’re at the cusp of a radical change in approach. Given these changes will look likely to alter the delivery of professional services for good, we should reflect on some of the key elements as they will undoubtedly influence the decisions we all need to make now to secure our practices’ futures.

1. The need for collaboration

The crisis and our response to it have highlighted the interdependencies that exist between individuals, organisations and communities.

Put simply, we each rely on others to get by personally and professionally and when you take out a spoke out of this complex wheel, things start to unravel and that impacts on us all.

Turning this observation on its head, it provides the perfect opportunity for more forward-thinking individuals and practices to start discussing how they can collaborate. In our opinion collaborating with non-competing business will allow the firms involved to position themselves as more current, more relevant and more attractive. Not only will they be able to provide a more cohesive and comprehensive service for their clients, they will also be able to make their marketing more productive and cost-effective by sharing audiences, resource and budgets.

2. The need for empathy and compassion

In a recent survey by McKinsey, 90% of participants felt that during the crisis having compassionate leaders improved their work-life balance and job satisfaction while 70% of those who worked for compassionate leaders felt more productive than those who didn’t.

Today our awareness and acceptance of the importance of mental well-being has never been greater. It has reinforced how vital it is for us to be more empathetic and more compassionate to both our colleagues and our clients.

In recent interviews, the leaders of professional service firms have repeatedly made the point that the way we treat staff, colleagues, professional contacts and clients today will have a long-lasting effect on how our practices are remembered long after this crisis.

With that in mind firms need to review their policies, their make-up and their communications. Everyone who comes into contact with that practice needs to be able to see that the firm understands how they are being affected and that the firm is doing everything they can to provide the required advice, support and solutions.

3. The need to listen to our clients

It shouldn’t take a pandemic for firms to realise the importance of client listening but it has been interesting to note far too many firms still view the exercise as an expensive luxury.

If ever there was a time to listen to your clients surely it’s now?

And we don’t mean an online questionnaire. We mean spending time with them (albeit virtually) to find out what they want from you, what they will need from you in the future, and - most critically - what you will need to do to provide the value that will retain those clients long-term as things get tougher.

It may be hard to hear but our ability to force our way through the oncoming recession will hinge on an understanding of our clients’ exact demands and adapting our offering and delivery to meet those demands. This is what will allow us to re-establish fee revenue and market share and gain an invaluable advantage over our less dynamic competitors.

And client listening is not just about the professional aspects of our relationships. It’s also about strengthening the personal side. The fact that the decision to instruct a professional adviser relies on the technical and the personal has never been more important. If our relationships are going to get out the other side intact, we need to be addressing both in every way we can.

Now, more than ever before, we all have something in common – coping with the constraints of lockdown and the uncertainties of what lies ahead.

We cannot stress enough that it will be the individuals and the firms who do what they can to support their clients through that uncertainty that will be in the strongest position when business confidence returns.

4. The need to see technology as permanent, not temporary

Video technology is nothing new but, having been forced to work from home, platforms like Zoom, Teams, and Lifesize have quickly become an integral part of our lives.

The question now is how can you use video going forward? How can it improve your client service, increase your accessibility and make client care a more profitable endeavour while making your fee earners working lives safer and easier?

Electronic briefings, web updates and video conference calls all enable firms to communicate changes far quicker than they could previously and there is no indication when this will slow down.

In fact, now they’re used to this speed of communication, it’s highly likely clients won’t let it slow down.

Have you considered how this will impact on your firm’s long-term operations and the changes in your infrastructure you’ll need to implement?

It’s easy to see the negative effects of lockdown but the smartest firms will be the ones who use the positive lessons we’ve learned to best commercial effect.

This is the perfect time for firms to make bold decisions on how they will adapt to meet the new demands they’ll face once things get back to normal. If you would like to discuss how we can support that process and book your first free 30-minute Zoom consultation, please email us today.

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