A few years ago, our bathroom was renovated by a builder. I chose to use them after being provided a quote of £2,500 to get the project completed. The final bill came in at almost £3,800.
Upon challenging his final invoice, he retorted with a short sniff and said ‘ah, yes, that was just an estimate’.
Considering this, I now have measured expectations of costs supplied to me by tradespeople. Despite a good job I was annoyed the work cost me more than I expected, not anticipating the final invoice would be so far from the initial quote. I felt somewhat deceived and the relationship with the builder was tarnished, simply because my expectations were not managed throughout the process. I learnt a valuable lesson from this experience about transparency of costs.
So, when the SRA talk about the need for ‘transparency’ as the outcome of their research, I fear interpretation has led to believing this means whatever you place in the initial quote and publishing all prices. However, it is my opinion that some evidence can be misconstrued. With so much research focussed on findings from quantitative data, the importance of qualitative data is lost, giving a misguided interpretation of the conclusions. Here’s what I believe transparency is and what your clients are looking for.
According to a recent, Home Moving in the age of the Consumer study, clients’ expectations have changed, whilst the meaning of service has evolved. Over 55% of home movers highlighted their frustration with the method and lack of communication from their conveyancer. Clients preference in receiving online communication is growing fast compared with traditional methods of face-to-face and phone calls. In fact, 79% prefer to receive updates about their transactions via online methods, such as emails, online portals or instant messaging. This demonstrates clients’ real perception of transparency but more so, how law firms should be thinking.
Ultimately, law firms need to consider a transparent service throughout and not just on receipt of the initial quote and the final invoice. Transparency is not just about publishing what you charge but managing client expectations. Similar to my building situation, the relationship with the builder would have been much improved had I received an understanding of costs at the beginning, middle and end of the process. Conveyancing is no different, so my advice is to consider how you can continuously communicate the value of your conveyancing service.