It’s all about service quality – but what does that mean?

A simple pushing of the boundaries by Arc Property Solicitors has led me to question what good service actually is and ask what does the client really want?  Whilst many lawyers will see this as positive for consumers I know other conveyancers will say “this isn’t what my clients want, they want me personally and I offer a personal service”.  They will say what is the point of calling someone that isn’t familiar with your file.
For me it seems to me at first read that an extension of opening hours by Arc can only be a good thing for their clients and can only increase the bar of competition facing the sector.  At a time when Legal Futures report nearly daily of competition from Australia and the US looking over the UK legal sector we all need to up our game if we are to survive.  However few firms have the size or scale of practice to justify these hours and many firms would argue they offer a personal service and people don’t want call centres they want their own solicitor who knows the case.
I have to admit as a consumer of banking I love the fact that I can phone someone 24 hours a day to find out what is going on with my bank account or self serve via on-line banking.  Access to information is important to me, so much so that when I lose my phone or can’t access the internet at home I get frustrated.  Maybe I shouldn’t but the reality is I do.
Now many traditionalists will say banking isn’t a profession any more it is merely a commoditised service and it isn’t as complex and stressful as moving home. I for one am pretty reliant on my bank and any lack of information or inability to contact it when I want would concern and stress me considerably.
I know that when I call a bank I get a call centre and a script.  For the majority of my questions this is entirely acceptable but for some of my questions it isn’t so I pay for an enhanced banking service where I can talk to a named individual that I have met about complex issues.
Maybe some of the traditional conveyancers would claim all their clients want is an office hours service.  Maybe there are clients that still accept that offices should close for lunch and at 5pm but I believe that consumers are increasingly sophisticated.  A call at 8.30pm at night might not be able to describe in detail to me the consequences of a missing grant of right of way but it can tell me if my executed transfer has been received or whether we know if the other side has their mortgage offer yet.
Conveyancing isn’t about either a personal service or an impersonal one, conveyancing clients are more sophisticated and at times will be happy to review an online case tracker whilst at other times want to speak to a person.
Conveyancers need to find ways of meeting the full complex needs of a client sometimes that is across a desk, at other times it will be a call to a junior member of staff or a click on a website.  It isn’t either or.
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