LPM 2023 Frontiers Report: Top three strategic priorities for SME law firms

What is your firm prioritising over the next 12 months and will it help you to stay competitive?

The insights from the latest LPM 2023 Frontiers report has highlighted the top three strategic objectives for SME law firms are:

  • Improving the client experience
  • Building a more agile and digital-first culture
  • Becoming more data-driven in decision making

Understanding the strategies of your competitors can help you to prioritise, resource, and improve long-term success.

In this deep dive of the LPM stats, we’ll discuss why these top three objectives are important for all legal practices and offer practical tips for achieving the goals.

Strategic priority 1: Improve the client experience

Paul Roberts, CEO at My Customer Lens recently said at the Law Firm Ambition Conference, “it’s important to define the difference between customer service and customer experience. I like to define customer service as what you do, and customer experience is how you make people feel.”

Improving the client experience is much more than simply improving your email templates or implementing a client portal. It should focus on the entire client journey, from initial enquiry through to case completion and beyond. It’s a review of every customer touchpoint throughout your organisation; from the way the phone is answered, to your hold music, reception waiting room, and website home page.

Your strategic priority should always be to improve the client experience because it’s law firms key competitive advantage. And you only have to be one percent better than your competitors to have an impact.

In the latest Lexis Nexis Bellwether Report, 81% of SME law firms ranked attracting new business as their number one challenge, closely followed by retaining current clients (79%).

Having a client-focused mindset helps you to overcome both challenges simultaneously. Enhancing all client touchpoints ensures more clients are satisfied, which means more will leave five-star reviews and recommend your services; more potential clients will choose your firm; and your existing clients have no reason to leave.

Guidance on implementing a client-focused mindset

According to the LPM Frontiers report, 94% of SMEs predicted they’d grow over the next 12 months and the Bellwether report showed similar predictions, further stating that firms plan to do this through acquiring new business.

Enhancing your operations with a client-focused mindset is the cheapest and easiest form of marketing. Despite the intentions of SME firms to invest significantly more in marketing this year than previous years, firms without a marketing budget or resource can still have an impact by enhancing their client experience and improving their competitive advantage.

Investing in legal technology creates a solid and necessary foundation for growth and efficiency. Both internal practice management systems and client facing tools help meet the needs and expectations of modern clients. Legal tech helps to support communication and collaboration, administrative tasks and compliance requirements, and data analysis and planning.

Strategic priority 2: Build a more agile and digital-first culture

A digital-first mindset underpins all of the fundamental business habits all modern law firm need to adopt. It provides the agility and flexibility required to meet client needs, manage a hybrid team, and innovate for long-term success.

A digital-first culture isn’t about specific technology or software, it’s a people-focused mindset that requires effective ongoing communication. It helps to connect your people, processes and goals to enable tangible outcomes and benefits. It helps your team to take advantage of opportunities to stay ahead of the competition. This is why thorough planning and a clear strategy is key before investing in any tech or software.

Best practices for implementing a digital-first strategy

Adopting a digital-first culture is crucial for successfully meeting the other strategic priorities that are important for SMEs today. It’s necessary if you want to improve ROI on your existing systems (ranked fourth in priorities); it’s crucial in becoming a data-driven firm (priority number three); and, of course, it aids with improving the client experience (top priority).

With plans to increase revenue and acquire new clients, legal software makes it easier to grow and scale, streamline operations, and meet your gaols. It will also ensure your marketing and sales efforts are maximised, rather than diluted, by internal inefficiencies and workload stress that can lose you money over time.

Strategic priority 3: Become more data-driven in decision making

Driving your firm forward using data-driven decisions, as opposed to gut feelings, is crucial for long-term success. Whilst 34% of firms are looking to become more data-driven, it’s not currently common practice for SMEs, so provides an immediate advantage over your competitors.

There are three key reasons why SME law firms aren’t data driven:

  • They don’t have the right tools, or multiple disconnected systems, to track and record data
  • They don’t know what data they need for effective decision making
  • Leaders believe they have all the data they need to make decisions

This presents an opportunity to implement a data culture at your firm to take advantage of the insights you collect that can help you continuously improve and optimise, which is beneficial for your clients, employees, and your bottom-line.

Discover the benefits of implementing a continuous improvement mindset

Connected digital tools are important, enabling you to collect and extract the data you need so you can create insights that turn into actions. But ultimately, becoming data-driven is a people focused mindset – a cultural change.

Your teams need to use the tools available to them to input the data, understand the data that needs collecting, and recognise the importance of capturing quality data. Without firm-wide involvement, your data will provide bias insights that can affect your resourcing and planning.

Access to accurate real-time data is game changing and helps you to succeed in all four fundamental habits: being digital-first, thinking client-focused, continuously improving, and empowering employees. Ensure that data management is thought about when you’re implementing a digital-first culture.

The strategic priorities for modern SME law firms

When implemented effectively, the top three priorities for SME law firms will put your firm on a strong foot to achieving your long term goals and giving you a competitive edge.  Effective digital tools can help to collect data – a powerful weapon that can help to improve the client service.

These priorities are also the cornerstone to achieving many other goals and ultimately, they are the secrets to long-term success. Ensuring all strategic, operational, and commercial decisions are supported by the right tech, data, and have your clients’ needs front of mind, will inevitably improve your competitive advantage and help with long-term success.