Benchmarks in Client Service: Why great service is becoming a competitive necessity for law and accounting firms

Benchmarks in client service

Why you should care about your client service

Most professionals know that great service is the key to business success – it’s a no-brainer. 

When customers don’t have the expertise to judge your expertise, it’s difficult to differentiate yourself on hard skills. This is particularly true of the professions, where there are thousands of firms doing the same thing (at least as far as their clients can tell). 

This means that, unless you’re a big firm with a well-known brand, like KPMG, Herbert Smith Freehills or Maurice Blackburn, you’ll rely on recommendations from clients to win business. Recommendations are hard to come by if your client service is poor. 

George Beaton – Director & Co-founder of FirmChecker and Executive Chairman of Beaton Research + Consulting

Client service benchmarks across professions

Trends over time

“Good service” is a relative term, because client expectations change over time. Competitive tensions between firms and trends in other industries drive innovation in firms, who must continuously improve to keep up with and stand out from other firms. Firms that don’t seek to improve service find themselves adrift of client expectations, resulting in less referred business. 

In the last few years, FirmChecker’s thousands of reviews have revealed that average client service levels have been gradually improving among accounting, law and conveyancing firms. This is evidenced by the “FirmChecker Score”, which is a weighted average of clients’ ratings of perceived value, their overall experience and their willingness to recommend firms. 

Albeit from a high base, average scores have increased as follows:

  • Accounting: 9.24 in 2018 → 9.33 in 2021
  • Law: 9.38 in 2018 → 9.46 in 2021
  • Conveyancing: 9.12 in 2018 → 9.67 in 2021

While these differences are small, over the course of many thousands of data points with quite low variance, they are certainly interesting. They indicate the market is extremely competitive, and that every small effort in client service matters. 

Differences between professions

One of the most interesting features of FirmChecker’s client service benchmarks is the significant growth in satisfaction among conveyancing firms. Their clients went from being clearly the least satisfied in 2018 to clearly the most satisfied in 2021. 

Our theory is that commoditization and process automation has driven this change – giving clients more consistent service. A big part of this is the automation of communications in the sector, which means clients rarely feel left in the dark regarding their property transfers, and don’t need to chase their conveyancer for information. 

While many accountants and lawyers see themselves as artisanal providers of bespoke services, to what extent can they expect process automation to be a competitive necessity in their own professions in the coming years? How might other practice areas be spun out into their own professions, much like conveyancing, which used to be the bread-and-butter of many law firms? 

The differences within professions

The differences within professions are also instructive, with important differences between average satisfaction in different law and accounting practice areas.
To get more detailed data on benchmarks within your profession, and track your own client service so you can continuously improve, get started with your free FirmChecker account.

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