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What Clients Want - the Emotional Intelligence Implications

If you haven't already done so, download our report on 'What clients Want' which reveals the findings from research conducted with over 600 people during 2020.

Key questions asked included 'how do clients feel when they deal with a law firm' ... in this article, Sandra Thompson shares here thoughts on the findings and, helpfully, what law firms can and should be doing based on these findings.

You can also book to attend our webinar on 2nd December when you will hear Sandra sharing her thoughts and have the opportunity to ask questions.

There’s so much valuable insight in this report both obvious and subtle. As a client experience consultant and an emotional intelligence coach I’m drawn to just three points. I believe that when you consider these specific areas and adopt the learning from the survey related to them you’ll stand out from your competitors. The three points are:

Expectation, Emotional states, Thinking about ‘little touches’


Two things struck me on the topic of expectation. Firstly, clients wanting the direct contact details of their lawyer. We live in an age where ‘access’ is expected. Access to the systems, the people and the technology that help to answer our questions, solve our problems and provide reassurance when we need them. This insight raised a number of questions for me - how will law firms deliver to this expectation when lawyers have been typically paid to think and problem solve rather than be at the beck and call of their clients? How will lawyers juggle the client communication needs along with the complex tasks they are required in order to practice their discipline? How will lawyers learn to switch from technical communication to that of the empathetic leader/influencer?

How will law firms enable their clients to serve themselves with the information they need to access around the clock?

Secondly, I was curious to know how a greater understanding of neuroscience could help law firms reduce some of the less positive emotions clients describe at the start of their journey. Simply considering the way the amygdala works and what our species need from law firms could help reduce the feelings of anger and anxiety identified in the report. It’s clear that at the end of the client experience those less positive emotions felt at the start have dissipated but I suspect that the law firm with the ability to reduce those negative emotions earlier in the engagement will beat their competition.

Emotional States

Neuroscientists have been questioning some of the firmly held beliefs about emotions over recent years. In the past people believed that there were a limited number of identifiable emotions. It was thought that emotions could be planned for and easily recognised. Not so.

Scientific evidence from MRI scans and thousands of medical reports have led to the discovery that our emotions are as unique as our fingerprint and it is only through applying the skills of emotional intelligence that one is able to relate to the emotions presented at that moment in time by clients.

Thinking about little touches

The point about ‘little touches’ was made within the report. This relates to thoughtful gestures expressed by a firm to its clients. It’s important for firms to recognise the massive potential in this simple statement and this point could have been easily missed.

When I think of ‘little touches’ I consider behavioural science and its application to client experiences. Little touches are the simple, small but meaningful things we do for our clients. Because they are meaningful, they are more likely to create an emotional connection and this connection could create a positive memory.

We often focus on the experience we are delivering to our clients, behavioural science invites us to consider the memory of the experience instead. How memorable are the experiences your law firm deliver? Are these memories always positive?

When a client has a positive memory, they will return to you when they need legal services again. This is so obvious, but it’s often not central to the business strategy of any legal firm.

Several customer experience publications talk about the need to ‘delight’ customers. you don’t need to delight them but you should think about the small and meaningful things you could do – these are the things that make you stand out from the competition.

Small and meaningful things are not expensive, they are not orchestrated, they are kind, often proactive and thoughtful moments that cause the client to think ‘they really do care about me’ or ‘I know they have my back’. When your staff practice the skill of emotional intelligence, they can pick up on your client’s feelings and they are better equipped to create these meaningful moments.

There is so much more to say on the topics of client experience, neuroscience, behavioural science, emotional intelligence and how these influence the performance of legal firms. I would be delighted to discuss these points in greater depth sometime.

Contact Sandra Thompson at to find out more about the post graduate courses she runs on emotional intelligence and customer experience book a time to speak to her about the support she can offer you to improve your client experience through consultancy or emotional intelligence coaching.

T: 07896 561001 and follow her:

Offers from Sandra for Members

1) 15% discount on the early bird rate for each successful applicant of the Applied Customer Experience and Emotional Intelligence course starting in Feb 2021.

2) Exclusive for Jan – March 2021, 3 x 90-minute emotional intelligence and client experience workshops for up to 15 people for £500, that’s a saving of £3,500.

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