Waiting to see how digital disruption pans out? Too late, it's already happened

By Matthew Briggs In About TLS

Whether you’re familiar with the term “digital disruption” or not, your life has most probably been affected by it in recent years. Whether it’s taking a cab, booking a holiday, purchasing travel insurance or starting a new relationship, you could be relying on a digitally disruptive business without even knowing it. Come to think of it, you may even have done all of the above in one trip!

So, what is digital disruption?
Digital disruption is a process of uprooting what has gone before. It involves changing how we think, do business, learn and go about our day-to-day lives.

It’s a principle and a model for business that we are particularly interested in at The Law Superstore. To see digital disruption in action, we need only look at the likes of Netflix and Amazon for inspiration.

These businesses came at a time when the world was beginning to transition from a linear pattern of consuming media – regular TV scheduling – to something much more free. Through their subscription service, Netflix has been part of a revolution in the way back-catalogues are used and the way programming is commissioned, filmed, funded and consumed.

This has been possible thanks to advances in technology, and in large part, due to the proliferation of mobile devices (2014 saw more people use the Internet on mobile devices than desktop devices for the first time in history).

Now that mobile has begun to dominate, there is no way back. This irreversible change has already caused a fundamental shift in all our lives; in the way we do everything from watching TV to buying groceries. So, if you think digital disruption is something that’s just around the corner, you’d be wrong . . . it’s already here.

Not every product or service delivered using digital technology can be described as “disruptive”. Incremental improvements made by a company can be described as progress or even innovation. But true digital disruption is altogether more revolutionary – a reimagining of the customer proposition and a challenge to the frameworks that have been built up over time. 

It is perhaps for this reason that digital disruption is often met with suspicion and even fear in some quarters. Although it is an inevitability that some individuals and organisations look to protect their position, at The Law Superstore we see disruption from a different angle. We believe it presents the legal profession with an opportunity to bring in new business, and a way of building stronger connections between service providers and customers. After all, these customers are connecting digitally with almost all other sectors – including Government! 

A key principle of digital disruption is an intense focus on the demands of the customer. There is good cause for us to adopt this approach in the legal sector where the latest findings suggest that there is an “Access Gap” in the region of £5 billion. That’s £5 billion of business that could be generated if legal service providers can build a bridge between themselves and their latent customer base.

I think the recent Citizens Advice research gives us an insight into why this Access Gap remains. In a survey of 2000 people, fewer than 40% believe that the British justice system is working well. But just under half of those surveyed were speaking from direct experience.

While there is an argument for discarding statistics based on people with second-hand information, there is an important point here about the negative perception of the legal profession. I have absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of legal service providers are doing a good job for their clients, but somewhere along the lines there has developed a disconnect between customer and service provider. And unless firms find a way to appeal to customers in the way they wish to access their products and services, this problem will only grow.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I believe The Law Superstore is an important part of the solution to this problem. As the only true comparison site for legal service providers, we are looking to bring the same convenience, choice and transparency to the legal sector that other disruptive companies such as AirBnB and Compare the Market have done for their industries.

At The Law Superstore we have looked closely at the digital disruption taking effect in other industries. Why? Because the effects of these changes stretch beyond the individual industries – they drive the evolution of customer buying habits. For instance, when Amazon offers a same day delivery service, customers begin to expect the same level of service from other online retailers.

It’s fair to say that selling legal services is not as straightforward as a taxi ride or a holiday home. There are many variables entailed. But we have created a platform capable of delivering a simple, slick customer experience for something that is complex.

And for some of our early adopters, such as Peter Gibson of Coles Solicitors, an effective comparison tool is what the profession has been in need of for some time:

“Consumers are becoming more savvy and like to shop around . . . For years we’ve received calls into our offices asking for prices for particular services and we know only too well that the caller will no sooner put down the receiver before moving down the list in the Yellow Pages or Google asking the same question of another solicitor.

“From what I can see, The Law Superstore will help to ensure that you are being compared fairly against other providers as solicitors will be encouraged to standardize their basic service to ensure that consumers can compare like-for-like services yet will have built in function to allow for the complexity of cases.

“I’m convinced that comparison sites needn’t cheapen the profession but handled correctly they could provide a new route to market.”

To those who are still reticent about the idea of a true comparison site, my parting thought would be this: sites like Go Compare and Money Supermarket have opened Pandora’s Box. In a world shaped by digital disruption it is now almost irrelevant whether the legal profession wants to see a genuine comparison site on the market . . . because the more important fact is that customers definitely do. 

"79% of people would consider using a genuine comparison site for legal services" - Dipsticks Research 2014

To learn more about TLS email our Legal Partner Director at [email protected]

*This article was first posted on LinkedIn

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