DCLG Call for Evidence: Indicating quality of service

Last year, the government issued a ‘Call for Evidence’ with an aim to gather feedback on how the home buying and selling process could be improved.

Launched by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the consultation highlighted a number of elements of the process itself as well as external factors which could have a positive impact on both consumers and professionals.

The release of the consultation highlighted a clear need for a review of the existing process, and in the wake of the Competition and Markets Authority report, a need to improve transparency for consumers.

This particular point is referenced in the document’s second section; as well as questioning how competition in the sector could be improved, it also asks the industry how consumers could be helped to make more informed decisions when choosing a conveyancer.

Given that conveyancing is one of the most frequently used legal services, it could be argued that consumers are not faced with the same barriers to the market as is the case in other areas of law.

However, an abundance of options can present problems in itself – namely in terms of choice. Though this tends to be viewed as a positive within any market, it can be complex for consumers when it comes to making a decision, particularly if the factors which differentiate the available options are not made clear.

This issue is also highlighted in the consultation, with the DCLG setting out an aim to improve clarity by allowing conveyancers to more easily ‘signal their level of customer service, speed and efficiency to the market’.

Whilst regulator proposals to publish prices will go some way to increase clarity for consumers, when implemented in isolation, the impact to improve quality indicators for prospective clients is likely to be minimal. Firms will need to take their own steps to communicating their service offering to consumers, especially once the focus shifts from the cost. This could include, for example, highlighting particular specialisms, displaying niche accreditations, as well as publishing consumer feedback.

The latter option, in particular, can provide potential clients with the most valuable information; given that the review will have been written by someone in a relatable position, real client feedback is ultimately the most honest way of demonstrating the quality of a firm’s service.

As well as helping a firm to stand out among competitors, taking the initial proactive step to ease consumer decision making is surely one in the right direction.

Today's Conveyancer