Your law firm’s brand isn’t established in ads or in the tagline on your business cards: it’s based on the experience your clients have. This is the case made by Jordan Furlong in “UX and the Future of Law Firm Branding,” and the principle also holds when law firms are the clients. A firm’s experience with a vendor or technology provider is the most critical component of that vendor’s brand.
Though “user experience” often refers to a product’s ease of use and design, it can also describe the ease of working with a company – based on its processes, services, and interactions. As Jordan explains, “When a lawyer fails to respond to email inquiries, or interrupts a client in the first seven seconds of their conversation, or sends a bill 20% more expensive than the original estimate with no warning or explanation, that lawyer has created a brand more powerful and authentic than anything the Marketing Department will ever come up with.” This is also true of the companies those law firms work with: when a vendor fails to say hello, charges extra for each user, training, or feature, or can’t support newer technologies, that vendor is telling you all about its brand.
So, how do you pick a provider with the kind of user experience your firm needs? Here is a list of questions to help you evaluate what your day-to-day experience with a vendor could look like. Evaluate early and often to ensure you have the right fit – not based on marketing messaging, but based on services.
1) RFP Proposals
- Does the vendor’s proposal address the RFP questions asked?
- Is the proposal submitted on time?
- Is the proposal easy to understand, scan, and read?
2) Purchase Process
- How easy is it to see what the software looks like in detail (e.g. live demo, videos) before committing?
- Does the vendor offer a free trial or test period?
- How easy is it to talk to a decision-maker or an executive at the organization?
- When a contract is being negotiated, are there stipulations that were initially not mentioned or made clear?
- How easy is it to terminate a contract at any point in your usage of the product?
- Is the pricing policy transparent?
- How easy is it to ask a question or dispute a fee?
- How many steps are required to submit a payment? How many payment options (e.g. credit card, check) are offered?
- How flexible and/or compatible are the terms (e.g. Net 30) with your company’s policies and processes?
5) Setup and Onboarding
- What is the turnaround time for setting up an account or a case on the product?
- Is there a training infrastructure or documentation for users to learn the product?
- Are the training materials available clear, up-to-date, and easy to understand?
- How many methods are available to get help (e.g. video tutorials, text documentation, phone, IM, email)?
- How quickly does the support team respond to a request for help? Do they keep you posted throughout a multi-step process or resolution?
- How knowledgeable is the support team on different systems or computer setups?
- Are support requests prioritized based on your title or clout in your firm?
7) Updates and Customization
- How often does the vendor update its offerings to match advances in technology, legal guidelines (e.g. ethics regulations), or lawyers’ process?
- How well does the vendor inform its current customers and prospects of these updates via email, blog, social media, or other information channels?
- How customizable is the offering to your particular needs?
- How often are new features implemented in response to your feedback?
The questions above can help you determine whether your vendor’s user experience is meeting your needs, or whether you can find a better fit. Think about legal tech vendors you currently use or are considering purchasing, and go through the checklist. Your learnings about the provider’s true brand can inform decisions that save you precious time, money, and energy.