Do you want to make sure that your commercial clients are happy with the dispute resolution services you are providing? Are you committed to tailoring your business to meet their needs? Irrespective of whether your clients are ‘dispute-savvy’ or still finding their way into the world of commercial dispute resolution, there are things that you can do to make sure you meet their expectations.
The Global Pound Conference is travelling around the world asking commercial users, judges, mediators, lawyers, academics and government officials to share everything they know about the best ways to meet the expectations of commercial clients. After analysing the feedback from the first 350 respondents, we have identified three steps that can help you meet the expectations of your commercial clients.
Step 1: Know yourself
Firstly, it’s important that you know what you do well and the type of practice that you want to have. Do you prefer to take the role of advocate and guide your clients through the dispute resolution process? Or would you rather work flexibly, taking a more collaborative approach which encourages clients to take an active role? Knowing this may have a big impact on how you grow your business or choose to position yourself in the market.
Step 2: Know your clients
Secondly, keep in mind that different types of clients will expect different things from you. Dispute-savvy clients are more likely to want to work collaboratively. They will want to be actively involved in designing the dispute resolution process as well as the outcome.
Conversely, clients who are still finding their feet are more likely to need you to guide them through the process. While they may want to be advised of all their options, they are more likely to feel comfortable relying on your expertise and following your preferred dispute resolution process. Knowing these things may have a big impact on how you go about attracting and retaining the clients that you want.
Step 3: Linking your thinking
Finally, bring the ideas from steps one and two together. By linking your thinking about your practice and your clients, you are in a better position to manage everyone’s expectations – including your own.
For example, once you know that your less experienced clients may need a lot of support before they feel comfortable taking an active role, you may think differently about how you advise them regarding process options or the types of resources they might need. Alternatively, once you understand that the dispute-savvy clients typically have an increased desire for autonomy, you might try to identify times when its best to step back and let the client drive the process.
Applying this across all areas of your practice, the possibilities become endless – from intake, to ongoing staff development, to making meaning of those client/advisor interactions that drive you crazy! How will you start linking your thinking to better meet the expectations of your clients?
In next week’s blog, we will bring you insights on the biggest obstacles and challenges facing commercial dispute resolution and what will need to need to happen to overcome them.
In the meantime, the GPC Series will continue to collect data of this nature from around the world. For those of you who want more information about the research underpinning this blog, please refer to the Singapore Session 2: Hierarchy of the relationship between parties’ expectations and current practices in commercial dispute resolution.
Emma-May Litchfield and Danielle Hutchinson are academics in Australia, who focus on empirically-based applied research. They work in both the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne and the Graduate School of Business and Law at RMIT University. At present, Danielle and Emma-May sit on the Executive and Academic Committees of the Global Pound Conference Series 2016-17.
Danielle and Emma-May are the co-founders and directors of the consulting firm Resolution Resources, who provide dispute resolution services and solutions both nationally and internationally. Together they work as dispute resolution advisors, providers and educators.