Lawyers can’t afford for client visits to be anything less than optimal. Fortunately, Unispace doesn’t simply design legal workplaces: we design employee and client experiences too, drawing on tools like technology, research, psychology and creativity to deliver refreshing and rewarding encounters.
"By 2020, customer experience will be a more important differentiator for legal firms than price." – Jonathan Winchester, insight6 ('Shoppers Anonymous')
Curate the experience
Simon Pole, Unispace’s global director for design, says a legal client’s visit should be “an immersive, curated, personally tailored experience; a subtle, omni-sensory approach which deepens the relationship”. All too often, however, their arrival is fraught with struggling to park, a perfunctory reception, the bureaucracy of signing in and receiving a badge, and a desultory wait with little better to do than watch muted news on a TV screen or flick through an album of press cuttings.
Instead, we could use data plus AI, Bluetooth and other technologies to prepare in advance for the client’s arrival, ushering them through their visit in a way that’s seamless, personalised and pleasurable. A client who arrives feeling unstressed – and even honoured – will be in a better frame of mind, ready to do business, feeling more positively towards the firm.
How often have you seen law firms with strong divides between client-facing areas and the back-of-house that clients never see? Or beautifully designed client areas in contrast to disorderly, unsightly offices? With the right approach to security and confidentiality, it can be far more inclusive, and impressive, for clients to see the work getting done, and more relational for them to see the people doing it.
Going a step further, why not let clients spend time amongst you? If they’re in town, whether seeing you or not on this occasion, why not let them use your offices to work, have meetings, or grab coffee or lunch? As an example, Unispace designed and delivered the BNZ Partners Centre in Wellington, an invaluable oasis for their clients.
Take service cues
The best curated client experiences are often in environments like luxury hotels, private aviation and haute couture. We recognise that it can be difficult for our clients to mentally translate this to their own sector.
In our design of global locations for Berkeley Research Group, every workplace borrows from hospitality. There are working fireplaces, luxurious fabrics and plush seating, while consultants engage with clients in collaborative areas supported by hoteling space.
Exploit heritage, culture and location
Make the most of what you have in order to create richer, more memorable client experiences. For Bank ABC in London, we designed glazed partitions to allow views into offices, and located executive suites to enjoy views over the Bank of England. And within this ultra-modern interior, we referenced the bank’s heritage with a stunning Arabesque cloister.
Tell stories, trigger conversations
Traditional law firms are known for putting art on their walls, which inevitably becomes wallpaper: always there, so it goes unnoticed. Often, that art has little relevance to the firm or its setting. And it can be costly.
Instead, we research client profiles and demographics to tell stories about the brand or location. For example, TripAdvisor’s meeting rooms have floor-to-ceiling graphics of destinations, so meetings can be held ‘at’ the Forbidden City or Giverny, and internal wayfinding is done with street signposts. Another client places artefacts in each meeting room to guide decision-making and drive client-first behaviour. By changing these artefacts regularly, they never become stale.
More like this – but much deeper?
The 200 page book details all you need to know about current and future trends for your legal workplace and includes topics such as: AI, generations in the workplace, talent acquisition, work styles, client experience, and more.