When looking for legal services, consumers in the UK chiefly rely on recommendations from friends, relative and colleagues, but more and more people are using the Internet to choose the best provider, research suggests.
SixthSense, the business market intelligence unit of researcher YouGov, has found that the proportion of Britons relying on Internet search engines to find a legal services provider has increased to 10% this year from 7% in 2011. Word-of-mouth recommendations remain the most widespread method for consumers when choosing a legal entity, mentioned by 50% of respondents in 2013 against 40% two years ago. Using the likes of Google and Yahoo! is now the third most popular approach adopted by consumers when looking for a legal representative, preceded by other methods that were not specified (20%) and word of mouth.
Although recommendations are the main source of legal services-related information, a provider's website also plays a crucial role in the decision-making process. More than six in ten of those surveyed agreed they would always visit the firm's web page to search for additional information and 54% stated they would feel more reassured to use a particular legal services provider if its website is user-friendly and has a good design, especially people aged 16-24 (63%) and 25-34 (64%).
The survey, which gathered responses from 2,100 people in the UK in January 2013, also revealed that the number of people willing to use and pay for services from a legal provider's website has increased since 2011. The percentage of consumers willing to do so, provided that the service is efficient and less expensive than seeing a legal representative in person, has gone up to 41% this year from 37% in 2011.
So, the lesson here is that a poorly functioning website or one that doesn't ensure you come across as professionally online as you do offline, could cost you.