Customer or Client Journey Mapping is the hot new concept in legal marketing. Yet some question whether it’s simply a fancy tool with a fancy name used by consultants to sell law firms something they either don’t need or already know how to do. Some argue that the path to hiring a law firm is no different now than it was in the beginning of time – that it starts with a relationship and a reputation. I don’t disagree that those are critically important components to law firm success.
However, the client journey itself has changed dramatically. Many traditional clients – in-house counsel or business owners – are placing a greater emphasis on pricing and efficiency. Some have developed sophisticated procurement groups or rely on daunting RFP processes to qualify firms and drive down pricing. Many share views about firms’ capabilities more openly and more quickly, using the kinds of compare, share and consume techniques previously reserved for retail marketing.
But just as the beginning of the journey becomes more complex, drawn out and fragmented, law firm clients continue to demand consistency. They expect firms to know who they are and what information they need, regardless of where and how the interaction takes place. This is the reason more law firms are investing in client journey mapping. These maps provide a detailed overview of the client experience and how people interact with a law firm at every touchpoint. But beyond developing a better understanding of how your clients experience your firm, how do these maps help law firms in real terms?
1. It helps you create more tailored experiences to extend the life of the client relationships.
By mapping all the potential interactions that a client may have with your firm, you can design more effective, tailored experiences that help lead to more assignments. Mapping also reduces the risk of overlooking certain segments of your client base who traditionally go to another firm for more work when they might give you that additional work if you make it easy for them to stay.
2. It helps your firm become more empathetic.
Law firms tend to think of clients as companies or organizations. It’s time to cut it out. Clients are people. Client journey mapping forces you to look at clients as individuals, rich with behavioral, attitudinal, emotional responses to the journey. By putting these detailed personas at the core of your journey maps, law firms can build empathy with their clients — helping firms to understand client’s mindsets, perceptions and motivations to better predict future behavior.
3. It guides clients towards hiring your firm.
Ultimately, the aim of any marketing strategy is to move targets from awareness and consideration towards purchase. But every persona requires a different approach to every stage. A first-time General Counsel embarking on an IPO requires a lot of information before taking the next step, while a well-versed business owner may move through the process a lot quicker. Mapping enables law firms to harness a deeper understanding of which stage each potential client is at, and what they need to move towards conversion.
Not only is this information helpful to guide your marketing team, but equally for the wider lawyer population to ensure the right message is always delivered to the right person, at the right time.
4. It identifies the critical touchpoints.
Putting yourself in your clients’ shoes helps you to understand them on another level and enables a firm to plan its communications to match. A good journey map will identify which touchpoints are needed to help achieve those client-centric goals, whether prior to hiring or during the middle of the engagement, or even post-closing.
Every touchpoint presents an important opportunity to connect and engage with the client, but some are more critical than others. These ‘moments of truth’ are key milestones on any journey. The more firms map their clients’ journeys, the more data they will have to identify these moments of truth.
5. It focuses outward and teaches a firm to listen.
A client journey map is founded on real client data, allowing law firms to continuously monitor their clients and analyze their behavior. Collecting this data requires regular interaction with the clients, but more importantly, it requires asking thoughtful questions and listening to the answers.
Any gaps that emerge in a clients’ experience can help to guide wider business decision-making and investment. The journey map creates a framework, urging colleagues and departments to break down organizational silos and work together to meet the expectations and needs of the clients and targets.
The journey maps of each law firm will be as varied as their customers. Inevitably there will be significant differences from one firm to another – even between direct competitors – whether due to varied business models, compensation structures or competitive strategies. But one truth prevails above all: the most successful client journey maps are rooted in reliable data that reflects real people. The only way to get that data is to listen to your clients!
For more on the topic of client journey mapping, take a listen to our Legal Marketing 2.0 Podcast here.
About the author
Yolanda Cartusciello is a business development and marketing consultant to law firms. She has over 20 years of experience in senior administrative roles in major law firms, including Cleary and Debevoise. Yolanda develops strategies for practice and industry groups, as well as special initiatives within law firms and she also delivers training and coaching programs, including client journey mapping training.