The South Asian markets (South Korea, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore) are at varying stages of legal sector liberalisation, and regardless of the exact timeframes, the completion of the processes appear to be inevitable.
Undoubtedly, with relaxation of jurisdiction comes increased competitive pressure on local practices. To minimise/pre-empt any commercial impact on their business, law firms in South Asia will do well to rethink the way they manage their relationships with customers. As more choices become available to clients, local firms must look at ways of strengthening influence within their customer base to secure client retention. They must also devise ways to retain their home country advantage and ward off competition from international players when it comes to business development and firm-wide growth programmes.
Already proven globally for the business value it delivers, especially to people-driven professional services organisations, adopting customer relationship management (CRM) as a discipline is worth considering. CRM technologies embed processes that make strategic relationship management (across every stage of a customer lifecycle) central and routine to business operation. A CRM system offers a 360 degree view of a firm’s network of contacts, which can be leveraged for business advantage. This is extremely valuable as firms can determine the complex connections between people, their expertise and experience; and organisations. It’s widely recognised that having multiple touchpoints in client organisations reduces the risk of losing customers. The relationship intelligence that such systems provide enables firms to ascertain the gaps in relationships and level of engagement, which can then be plugged by developing targeted key client management programmes to strengthen and retain the client relationship.
This is not all, legal firms can utilise the relationship insight to identify opportunities for cross-selling services and even developing new offering to clients. In addition to greatly improving the experience of working with a firm, greater customer satisfaction creates client ‘stickiness’ for the long term. Often a strong and fulfilled relationship with the firm far outweighs any financial gain that a customer might perceive from moving to another firm.
A customer relationship management approach will enable local firms to create a protective cloak around their business, improve client satisfaction and retain the client base. The drivers are clear, as we all know it’s far more costly to win a new client than retain an existing one. There is business merit in this. In fact, South America too is seeing an influx of global firms setting up operations in the region and many local firms are astutely adopting a more concerted approach to engaging with customers to pre-empt any potential adverse impact on their business – especially as international firms are well versed in strategic CRM techniques.