New research has shown that more than two-thirds of consumers don’t know what solicitors do.
The YouGov survey also showed only 13% of respondents would buy legal services from a supermarket but, encouragingly for us, more than three-quarters of those who have used a solicitor were either satisfied or very satisfied with the service they received. The same research though showed less than half said they would be fairly confident of judging the quality of help they received.
Intriguing findings and they perhaps highlight difficulties the legal sector has created for itself. There has always been a kind of veil of mysticism about exactly what it is that solicitors can do that mere mortals can’t – a myth perpetuated by the industry with no explanation. This could be why we often come in for criticism. Doing what we can to be transparent about our work – particularly charges – and sharing information via websites and publications are ways to set the record straight and what legal firms should be doing in these difficult times.
It is essential clients and potential clients are properly advised about hourly rates and total costs. This information cannot be viewed in isolation but should be seen alongside the level of service they will get, eg a lower price might be appealing but could mean a less experienced lawyer working on the case.
With the inevitable advent of legal services in supermarkets, the 13% findings in this survey on that front may be a little premature. A more specific question about purchasing, for instance, conveyancing services, I expect would have thrown up a much higher number of people willing to give it a go.
And while the satisfaction ratings – which mirror our own at Woolley & Co – could leave us sitting back with nice warm glow, it is the minority who have a bad experience with solicitors who shout the loudest.
Ultimately, we need to be going out of our way to offer world-class customers service to everyone.