How to retain competitive advantage in the ABS era

DoloresCharlotte Parkinson, Modern Law Magazine, spoke to Dolores Evelyn (pictured); Eclipse  Legal Systems, about how technology can help small to medium sized firms  retain competitive advantage following the emergence of ABS giants, since the  ABS Act was passed through parliament at the end of 2011.

It has been just over a year since the  ABS Act cleared its final hurdle and  was conceded through Parliament  and already some big players within  the legal services sector have began to  emerge. The appearance of ABS firms  such as BT Law, Quindell, The Co-op,  Thompsons, Admiral Law, Ageas Law  and Stobarts, has left many smaller  law firms wondering how they can  streamline their service offerings in  order to retain competitive advantage  and avoid their clients being swallowed  up by these new ABS giants.

While it is feared that many of  these newly emerging industry  heavyweights will begin to swamp  the market, some consumers feel  as though firms of this size can lose  the personal aspect of service which  can often be instrumental to success  in an exceptionally competitive  market. The client may be afraid of  being subject to endless options on  an automated telephone service for  example. Although there are some  larger corporations, such as NatWest,  breaking the mould with their  innovative NatWest Mobile Branch Banking, which creates an accessible  service for its customers in rural areas  by providing them with access to  banking without having to travel to  towns and cities, many larger firms  have neglected the  personal aspect of  customer service.

A pro-active approach

So, what are the ways in which the  smaller law firms can remain at the  fore of the market now that these huge  ABS corporations are in play? The  average person will use a lawyer four  times in their life and this will broadly  be across four consumer areas of law;  conveyancing, probate and possibly  family and personal injury. As it will  be a necessity for most people to use  these services at some point in their  life there is certainly the demand for  the service, so it is the competitive  edge for the small to medium sized  firms that is vital.

Technology has advanced beyond  recognition within the last 10 years and  has changed the scope for possibility  within the legal sector. Many firms  are therefore looking towards their  technological service providers to  aid in giving them the competitive  advantage and market share and  while some of these firms are being  pro-active in the way they approach  market uncertainty and change, there  are some firms where this much  needed pro-active nature is lacking.  They must listen to their service  providers in these times of change as  they can help them remain slick and  efficient and give them the advantage  they so desperately need.

Dolores Evelyn, Sales Director at Eclipse  Legal Systems, comments:

“One technology recently revealed  – which perfectly fits this ‘service’  ethos – is Eclipse’s own TouchPoint client self-service portal. TouchPoint  provides a secure, online, device independent  way for clients and  customers to manage their own  cases. The TouchPoint ‘experience’  and client journey has simplicity at its  heart, and carries the none-too-small  advantage of providing great savings  in administrative costs.

As the market changes, clients will  demand a different ‘type’ of service  – one that is ‘always on’ and provides  the most hassle-free way of staying in  contact. TouchPoint is open to firms  of all sizes, enabling smaller operators  to really level the playing field and  provide a ‘big firm’ self-service portal  experience.”