How to tap into your creative potential to deliver a better legal experience?
Reimagining the customer journey in the legal world.
Business today is all about the user experience, and yet the legal industry remains behind the curve. The user experience is the overall experience of a person using a product or a service that encompasses all aspects of its interaction with a company. In a world that is becoming increasingly digital and technological, legal service providers delivering an outstanding customer experience are more likely to sustain and to thrive. As the legal market is shaken by increasing competition and disruption, an engaging user experience gives a strategic advantage that has the potential to generate exponential growth for law firms.
Today’s, the biggest threat to the legal market is not competition by alternative service providers, nor disruption by technological companies. Instead, it is a crisis of imagination. Most legal service providers are unable to reimagine how to deliver legal services, how to serve their customers and how to craft an attractive offer. Most legal service providers are not delivering the legal experience clients hope to receive.
By not improving or reinventing the customer journey, disruption is made easier. Daring alternative services providers and start-ups can breakthrough more easily on the market. While competition and disruption are difficult to stop, getting started on a quest for imagination is an easier task and one that is more rewarding. Reimagining the customer journey to provide a better legal experience and to take a strategic position on the market can be achieved through creativity.
Clients need to be taken from point A to point B when all lawyers offer is the most sophisticated legal protection in the form of a long and technical contract in case things don’t go as planned. What if the contract could help clients reach point B instead? How can contracts add value to clients? How the contract could contribute to better business outcomes? Legal service providers must focus more on matching the exact needs of their customers and on making their customer journey more practical from a business perspective as well as more enjoyable from a personal standpoint.
Reimagining the customer journey in the legal field is crucial to stay relevant and to succeed in this increasingly competitive market. Tapping into our creative potential is one of the most promising opportunities, if not the most compelling opportunity, to deliver a better legal experience. A legal experience that can best meet customer’s needs and make legal professionals feel more fulfilled in their careers too.
(Visual by Dalia Moniat)
This is central to our mission at Legal Creatives. To help legal professionals tap into their creative potential for them to be innovation-ready, so they can reimagine the legal experience they offer to their clients. In this creative spirit, Sarah Fox, a construction lawyer from the UK and our Academy member, is drafting contracts in less than 500 words. The contracts she designs for her customers builds trust, avoid disputes and safeguard her client’s business needs. Likewise, Milene Amoriello Spolador, a tax and business lawyer from Brazil and another Academy member, is using creativity to bring the legal service closer to consumers and to improve the customer experience by making the lawyer a true partner of innovation. In the same spirit, Dalia Moniat, a prospective lawyer, illustrator and concept designer from Germany, draws visual notes on topics at the intersection of law, technology and design in order to make knowledge and information transfer more user-friendly. They all deliver a different experience of legal services on the basis of a unique vision they developed tapping into their own creative potential. By following a structured creative process and enhancing their creative skills, it gets easier to start reimagining how contracts are negotiated and drafted and how legal services are delivered. Making the client journey more satisfying is possible, and as our Academy members say, it can be fun too.
It is time to reimagine the customer journey in the legal field. The costs of not improving the legal experience may cripple service providers. So how legal services can be more adequate to businesses’ needs, more satisfying and overall more enjoyable? This is central to our movement at Legal Creatives that has gone global and is on track to go viral as predicted by the Web Summit, the world’s largest technology conference that featured Legal Creatives in 2017 for its huge potential for impact and growth. Today, lawyers from around the world enhance their creativity using our Online Academy to be innovation-ready. Some of the most successful strategies we share in this article are specifically made to enhance the legal experience through creativity.
Why envisioning a better legal experience?
Offering a better legal experience starts with understanding clients’ needs. Today, clients select and hire legal service providers based on the perceived value of the legal service. Clients make decisions according to the predictability of the legal service in relation to the legal costs, processes, and outcomes. Clients want to know how much the service is going to cost from beginning to end. They want to know how they can participate in their legal projects. And they want to know the value they are likely to receive from the legal service.
Most legal service providers are not offering enough certainty on core clients’ expectations. The legal offer is not detailed or clear enough on legal costs, process and outcome and as a result, clients are increasingly considering alternative service providers who tend to provide more transparency on those elements of concern to them. Therefore, to envision a better legal experience, service providers need to make clear choices on each of the three elements that matter the most to customers and provide as much clarity as possible on each of their choices.
Cost is the most preoccupying aspect of legal services because of its unpredictability. The billable business model tends to make cost increase and seriously diminishes the quality of the user experience. Because of that, accessibility of legal services is a much-debated topic today. Clients hope for accessible legal services. Some clients want easily downloadable templates that are affordable. Other clients seek customized legal services with ongoing support. Provided clients understand the value out of the legal service and have certainty on the costs involved, they will take action. But if there are any uncertainties related to the costs of legal services, then customers tend to be reluctant to move forward. What clients want is not just affordability but certainty on costs. This is why accessibility is not just about affordability. Accessibility is also about predictability. Today, the opportunity consists in increasing the predictability of the costs through innovative business models.
The second element to consider to improve the user experience is the legal process. Today, clients want to participate in their legal projects. They want to know when they can participate and how they can do so. The legal process needs to be accessible, whether online or in-person, and predictable. The duration and phases of any legal project ought to be communicated in advance. The steps involved in the process ought to be clear and presented in an easily understandable manner. The manner the customer can intervene in the project should be already laid out in a simple and user-friendly manner. The process holds a huge potential for improvement, especially because of technologies. By leveraging new technologies, workflows can increase the quality of the legal services and reduce the time needed to deliver the service to the client. Having a clear process in place can greatly benefit the client relationship.
This third and last element that can be improved for a better legal experience is the perceived outcome or value of the legal service. The outcome refers to the value unlocked by clients using the legal service. Simplicity, the speed of delivery and tranquility of mind are all examples valued by clients. To them, legal services are a tool that can help them create more value. Service providers would benefit greatly from communicating well on the value of the legal service. The greatest opportunity for service providers is to increase the perceived value of the legal service from the user perspective and to deliver exactly the promise communicated.
A better legal experience implies considering these three potentials first and foremost. It is important for service providers to position themselves on the market with regard to each of those three elements. Once this strategic work is completed, service providers can start envisioning creating a better legal experience, taking into account the importance to provide predictability on the costs involved, the process and the speed of the legal service delivery, and the created value.
Once the vision is clear, or clearer, as to how the legal service provider is positioned from the user perspective, the creative work can be initiated. Reimagining the legal experience is about finding creative ways to improve or reinvent the way legal services are being delivered. The objective is to make the customer journey more satisfying for the clients by bringing more value, making processes both transparent and participatory, and costs more predictable.
How to reimagine the customer journey?
Gaining clarity as to how to best answer clients’ expectations is the starting point of the creative work. Once the vision is established, the creative journey into reimagining the customer experience can begin. This creative work needs to be done with a view to develop and implement creative solutions that best answer the needs of clients according to the pre-determined vision. So how to tap into the imagination potential? Do creative people have a secret that lawyers can use? What creatives techniques can be used to start reimagining the legal experience?
The research we’ve done clearly indicates that creativity is a science that can be learned and put into practice in different contexts, including in the legal context. Creative skills can be enhanced by lawyers. Highly creative people are very good at making connections. Therefore, to enhance creativity, one needs to learn how to make connections. The more unexpected the connections the more innovative the ideas. And the most innovative ideas, the bigger the opportunity in terms of developing strategic advantages.
There are many examples of unexpected connections leading to groundbreaking innovations that have given companies strong competitive advantages. For instance, veteran track and field coach Bill Bowerman became obsessed with designing a running shoe that would help athletes save precious seconds in competitions. Nike’s original innovator was deeply dissatisfied with the then available running spikes, which were too heavy, made the shoe not comfortable and didn’t go all the distance. It was not until a breakfast, as he contemplated the syrupy waffle on his plate that he wondered: “What if you reversed the pattern and formed a material with raised waffle-grid nubs?” His quest led him to redefine athletic footwear with the addition of a raised, gridded pattern and grip traction on the rubber material of the sole. This unexpected connection between the shoe and the waffle led Nike to develop the iconic Waffle Trainer. The rest is history.
So how does Nike’s example relate to the law? Today, the complexity of legal services is a major challenge. The future of the law belongs to those service providers who are able to make legal services more usable, more attractive and more satisfying. As an example, contracts are not designed for users, they are made by lawyers for other lawyers and for judges. Contacts are difficult to understand from the user perspective, and that makes contracts more difficult to be executed. To make the contracting journey more satisfying from the user perspective, a group of lawyers and contract managers in the Nordic countries leveraged our methodology to tackle this challenge at their Future of Contracting Conference. The expectations were to have a contract that would maximize business outcomes. Conducting half of the Legal Creatives cycle in just one day, the process focused on ideation to create a new contractual solution that would best support business’ needs. The solution was a new digital contractual tool. With a shared dashboard, the new tool includes, amongst other features, deadlines for delivery, automatic reminders and triggers with rewards and sanctions.
Creativity is a new way of thinking. Creativity is not just about brainstorming. And creativity is not just for artists. In fact, creative problem solving is a structured methodology that enables to develop and implement new solutions through imagination. In a legal context, creativity comes handy to find new legal service delivery models in a way that can make the legal experience more satisfying by making it user-centric.
What are the creative skills needed?
Creativity is a set of mindset, skills, and techniques. When applied in a creative problem-solving process, solutions to unresolved challenges are quicker to find. To determine if a solution is creative, one needs to evaluate if the solution meets three criteria: Is the solution new, original and relevant to solve a particular problem? The key to being highly creative is to train yourself at making connections and to learn creativity in a practical manner. In the same way, artistic creativity can only be learned by practicing the art of dance, theatre, and music, applying creativity in a professional context can only bring benefits through practice.
Developing creativity in a practical manner means getting comfortable at making unexpected connections. Multiple creative exercises can be done to enhance one’s ability to make connections. As an example, whenever we run a Legal Creatives training or workshop, we train participants to make connections between contracts and totally unrelated objects.
By asking participants to combine a contract with a watch, a pair of headphones or a rose, participants find very original ideas. The connections are so unexpected that they enable participants to generate totally new ideas that have never been found before. Those ideas can be then be refined to be applicable in a legal context. Even if the ideas seem wild at the
beginning, they can be tamed and become
realistic in the end. In this way, creativity can be used to find new ideas on the legal service delivery model to create a unique customer journey that best meets the needs of the clients.
Finding original ideas for a new customer journey in the legal field is easier when following the entire creative process and, at the same time, enhancing lawyers’ creative skills. In a full Legal Creatives process, lawyers get to improve their creative fluency, which is the capacity to produce many ideas; their originality which is the capacity to find unusual ideas; their flexibility, which is the capacity to find ideas in different categories; And their elaboration capacities to embellish, refine and optimize an initial idea using the flow of ideas. Enhancing creative skills allows lawyers to open the realms of possibilities, lead them to find more promising ideas and enable them to develop tangible solutions that can be implemented in order to bring critical changes to their customer journey.
Highly creative lawyers definitely stand out because of their remarkable capacity to constantly improve existing models through imagination. Creativity enables them to develop and implement new solutions capable of generating a better experience for their clients and better results for their firms. Working around the globe with our trusted network of partners, such as Skye Contracts in Sweden, FutureLab.Legal in Australia, and some of our Academy members located in different countries, we are able to deliver a creative vision that none has dared before. This method has already been used in the legal field multiple times, and the good news is that it works.
What outcomes can be reached with creativity?
Creativity can improve the customer journey and also help reduce the access to justice gap. Using our creative methodology lawyers feel re-energized for their work, customers regain hope in the legal profession and institutions leverage a proven approach that best support innovation in their communities.
We recently used the Legal Creatives methodology to help reduce the access to justice gap in Mexico. Together with the help of the Legal Hackers Monterrey founder, Gemma Juárez Abella, we gathered the community in Mexico and beyond and engaged them in the process of reimagining the legal service delivery model for housing issues in Mexico. 20% of Mexicans experience legal problems relating to housing. Participants tapped into their creative potential to reimagine the service delivery by taking into account the perspective of landlords, tenants, and neighbors.
Conducting a 120-minute sprint at the Technológico de Monterrey, the process focused on ideation to create new solutions that would incorporate new models for legal service delivery. The ideation process was speeded up using creative problem-solving techniques applied to each user perspective (landlords, or tenants or neighbors). The solutions were prototypes of web apps that incorporated features to meet the needs of each user type. The tools prototyped were simple and engaging for the community of users targeted, with easy to use interfaces that encapsulated processes designed to simplify the user journey in resolving housing issues.
How to start creating?
Great innovators are not born, they are created. By following a structured creative process and taking simple exercises designed to enhance creative skills, lawyers can tap into their creative potential to improve or reinvent the customer journey they offer. Using a proven method, step-by-step, challenges in the customer journey can be tackled with a view to developing strategic advantages. And the more service providers are thinking boldly about the legal experience they deliver the more competitive they will be. Developing a strategic advantage by offering and maintaining a memorable customer experience has the potential to generate growth beyond measure.
It’s time to make client satisfaction a top priority at law firms. Using a creative methodology and applying it to legal service delivery can unlock insights, create value and develop tangible solutions that can be used to offer a better legal experience. With the increasing competition, the best way to fail is to do nothing about the user experience. And the best way to succeed is to give creativity not a fair trial but instead, to give it a fair try.
About the Author
Tessa Manuello is the founder of Legal Creatives, helping the legal industry reimagine the legal experience in the digital era. Tessa regularly consults and delivers deeply engaging, thought-provoking and highly motivational experiences for international audiences, connecting the dots where nobody does. Her methodology at the intersection of Creative Thinking, Design Thinking, and Exponential Strategies is considered thought-provoking, highly practical and effortlessly applicable in a legal context. Tessa is also a certified mediator and a lecturer at the University of Sherbrooke (Canada) where she is in charge of designing and delivering a new course on creativity at the Law faculty. You can find more information about Tessa Manuello and Legal Creatives by visiting: legalcreatives.com