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What’s Your Legal Team’s Brand - Part 2

Written by Laura J. Greenberg on . About #optimizing in-house legal.

In examining my legal team’s brand, I like to start with the “what” and “how”. Part 1 explored your team’s “what”. Now, it’s time for the “how”.

Starting with “how” requires examining how your team is providing its services and products to your customers. Defining users is a separate exercise, which I’ll discuss in Part 3.

Keeping it simple, I like to lead teams in a 3 question exercise:

1. How are you providing legal support and services?

2. How do users feel after they’ve experienced your legal support?

3. Is there anything you want to change about how you provide legal support?

To answer this question, I ask legal teams to compare their customer service experience with a variety of well-known companies. I like the mix of IKEA, Apple, and McDonald’s.

I find it’s fun to break into groups and ask the teams to characterize the customer experiences of these businesses. It’s likely to lead to lively debates as individuals often hold strong and emotional opinions about these companies. Plus, it gives an opportunity for the more opinionated team members to express themselves.

In defining the customer experiences, I aim to ensure the main points of each customer service strategy have been highlighted. I’m sure your team will come up with even more characteristics for each business, but here my highlights below:

IKEA

IKEA provides an immersive customer experience with standardized self-service. It is built on the idea that there is something for everyone in its stores. Importantly, the customer is a co-producer of the product. The customer can even earn a sense of accomplishment from the process of building IKEA products with only one tool - the Allan key[1]

Apple Store

The Apple Store centers its customer experience around building relationships[2]

Apple employs the following customer service strategy:

  • Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome.
  • Probe politely to understand all the customer's needs.
  • Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
  • Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
  • End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.[3]

McDonald’s

McDonald’s is a quick-serve restaurant using a restricted and standardized menu of homogenous products. The assembly-line production is shielded from the customer. They focus on product quality, fast delivery without table service, and customer satisfaction. [4]

After aligning on a list of characteristics and qualities of each business it is time for comparison.

This discussion requires honesty and transparency to be effective. Your legal team members should feel safe sharing what they might view as their shortcomings or failures. More often than not, these are likely the result of the environment or team set-up; not necessarily an individual’s fault.

I like to remind teams the goal is continuous improvement, not perfection. Teams can’t work towards improvement if they aren't honest about where they are today.

This exercise can also be frustrating because it focuses on what is being done now and not on solutions or suggestions for improvement - that will come later.

If you don’t know where to start - start at the beginning: What is your customer’s entry experience “walking” into the legal department?

When your customers walk through the legal team’s “front door” are they met by:

  • A large, immersive but loosely guided experience where they are co-creators in the final product?
  • White-gloved service from a team member who can answer all their questions and hand-hold them through any processes?
  • A clearly established set of options from which they select the needed service?

This should lead to a healthy discussion and insights about the legal services your team provides.

Once the team has agreed on the characteristics of how your legal service is currently provided, make sure it’s written down.

Now, it’s time to move to feelings. This can be challenging as lawyers have been trained to remove emotion from our jobs.

This may seem like an odd question, but it ties back to purpose and brand, so hang in there with me.

Drawing comparisons with IKEA, Apple, and McDonald’s, here are some potential ideas:

  • Perhaps, much like after successfully building an IKEA wardrobe without breaking up with your partner, your clients leave feeling more confident in their abilities? Maybe they feel more empowered to navigate legal issues with the one tool and information your team has provided?
  • Or, maybe, your business partners are left feeling supported but dependent on you because you’re there with them every step of the way?
  • Or do your customers leave feeling secure with the known menu of options and consistent service?
  • Or, I highly doubt this is the case with your team, do your clients leave feeling frustrated by the lack of communication and understanding around legal issues?

Here, I encourage you to push your team to dig deeper than answering with a simple “satisfied”. Try to accurately capture at least 3 strong emotions your clients likely feel after using your services.

I like to end with time-capped reflection.

After thinking through these two exercises - is there anything you want to change about how you provide legal support? Are you satisfied with the characterization of customer service and emotions likely elicited from your customers?

Here, you may want to consider factors outside of your team like:

  • Does your legal support strategy align with the company’s vision, mission, and purpose?
  • Does your current support model work in partnership with your clients?
  • Is legal service and support consistent across the business?
  • Are there known issues that need to be addressed?

Again, here, we are not working to solve known issues or problems, but rather reflecting and noting down the current state of how legal service is provided.

In summary, try these 3 questions to explore your team’s “how”:

1. How are you providing legal support and services?

2. How do users feel after they’ve experienced your legal support?

3. Is there anything you want to change about how you provide legal support?

Now, you’ve established your “what” and “how”. We’re going to take a detour to look at users and legal design before moving on to your “why”.


[1] Samantha Mehra - What IKEA Gets Right About Customer Experience

[2] Forbes’ article: How The Apple Store Creates Irresistible Customer Experiences

[3] Future Stores’ article: Apple's Customer Experience Strategy: Turn Stores into “Town Squares”

[4] Joe Wessh - “The Service Concept of McDonald's”

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