Retail brands could offer comfort in legal world

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Legal services are next on the list of additional services that retailers, and in fact any corporate organisation, can offer following a change in the law. While it’s not relevant for all brands it’s an area where retailers have a natural fit and can bring customer service and plain talking in a way that traditional law firms can’t.

Marketing Week’s cover feature this week looked at what this change in the law means for the legal industry and for consumer brands that could move into the space.

The situations that involve lawyers tend to be those that are complex, sensitive and stressful, so anything that could offer reassurance along with professional and quality legal advice would be in the consumer’s interest.

Getting a divorce, writing a will, buying a house. These are things that can’t be done without legal counsel but are some of the most frustrating and confusing things a person will have to go through.

For most, they are situations fraught with complexity made only more difficult because of the legalese that seems to stand in the way of understanding what’s really going on. A familiar and trusted brand could offer some much needed assurance.

I’m in the middle of buying a house, and have never felt so out of my depth in terms of the form filling and legal requirements for what is a very complex process.

Nothing is as clear as it should be and even simple answers to questions put to my solicitor are returned in a language so convoluted that I wish I hadn’t asked the question in the first place. Not a failing on the solicitor’s part per se , but down to the inherent inaccessibility of the process.

Having never had or needed a solicitor before, how did I chose the right one to represent my best interests? I called a few numbers from the phone book, looked for some online reviews and ended settling for the firm that sounded most personable when I called.
If a retail brand I already trusted and felt familiar with offered the same level of legal services as a law firm I would feel much more comfortable going to them.

Retailer brands – at least the good ones that have mastered customer service and satisfaction – are well placed to translate those skills into legal services.

The Co-operative Group for instance already offers a number of legal services though external solicitors and has signalled its intentions to enhance this under the new regulations as soon as possible.

The Co-op brand, which has already built a strong perception as being a business with a strong moral compass and ethical stance through its retail operations as well as other areas of the business, would serve as reassurance to consumers seeking legal advice for any number of distressing circumstances.

Imagine if the John Lewis Partnership, which includes Waitrose, turned its hand to the law. I’m sure that its highly regarded brand and reputation for providing a peerless customer experience would stand it to do well offering legal advice in the same reassuring manner.

It’s obviously not relevant for all retail brands. I can’t see Topshop law being a natural fit, but for those that already offer a suite of services in adjacent categories such a mobile networks, banking, opticians or travel it could be a perfect avenue to offer customers a credible and genuinely valuable service that takes some of the stress out of legal situations.

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