Professional service firms neglecting ‘cost consciousness’

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Cost consciousness is ‘head and shoulders’ above any other client concerns when it comes to law firm service – but it remains one that law firms are most likely to neglect.

Consultant George Beaton of Beaton Research + Consulting says “very few practitioners have discovered cost consciousness”, and that it remained a “missing link” for firms.

“Improvements in cost consciousness have more potential than anything else to enhance clients’ overall experience,” Beaton said in a recent blog post.

“Yet cost consciousness is poorly understood and receives little attention with the result that both clients and firms are deprived of the benefits,” he said.

Beaton says while clients see price and value as positively related - and are happy to pay higher fees for higher quality - this doesn’t mean a firm can “charge as much as it likes”.

“If practitioners demonstrate a cavalier attitude to spending clients’ money, they can expect clients to push back on every single invoice, no matter what the amount,” he said.

However, Beaton says that, if a practioner demonstrates cost consciousness, then clients will more readily accept higher rates, and this will have little impact on perception of value.

Cost consciousness is often described as being when practioners spend money as carefully as if it was their own. Beaton gives examples of how firms can demonstrate this consciousness, such as communicating with their clients openly and regularly about fees, demonstrating concern when costs are mounting, and even showing  eagerness to discuss their budget constraints.

“A cost conscious firm is mindful at all times of costs. These firms provide accurate cost estimates upfront and again when any additional charges are incurred,” he said.
  • AbsolutelyRight on 25/02/2014 1:36:15 PM

    George Beaton is spot on with his analysis as usual. Post-GFC, firms have had to - finally - demonstrate their willingness to work with clients on pricing, and demonstrate they are aware of very real cost constraints. Firms still have a long way to go, and can still work much harder on providing clients options, like alternative fee arrangements.

  • AbsolutelyRight on 25/02/2014 11:53:34 AM

    George Beaton has it spot on with his analysis as usual. Clients post-GFC are not interested in firms that are not aware of the very real cost and time pressures they are under. Law firms have a long way to go on alternative fee models and working within client budgets.

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