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What does Phil Spencers fronting of In-Deed mean for clients?

As followers of the property (and even broader) press this week will be aware, In-Deed, the new Conveyancing service from Rightmove founder Harry Hill, has just launched.
The service, which promises to raise standards in the Conveyancing sector, is endorsed by property personality Phil Spencer.

Fridaysmove have written extensively on the need to improve Conveyancing standards, a need even acknowledged by the Law Society who’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) only recently went live .   It is worth pointing out however that the CQS is primarily there to win back the confidence of insurers and lenders and less about improving consumer experience.

In fact the CQS is more about internal protocols and checks and balances which albeit in the overall interests of buyers and sellers, does little to address or even acknowledge service expectations of the client.

Any high profile attempts to bring poor service levels under the microscope are welcomed by Fridaysmove .   Better still, as with the case of In-Deed, if they propose constructive ways to actually do something about it.

There has been a certain amount of criticism of Phil Spencer of whom it has been suggested can have little to say of the merits of a legal service that is less than a week old.

Phil Spencer is backing In-Deed with the slogan “Finally a property lawyer   your side” yet, save for the probable pilot testing of the service, it has yet to preside over its first completed matter.

However we would suggest that it is the core values of In-Deed that Phil Spencer is endorsing.   In-Deed, who claim to have ‘reinvented Conveyancing from the customers point of view’, are certainly using all the right words, words like ‘transparency’ and  ‘no hidden extras’.

Bolder claims like ‘changing the industry itself’ may be premature at this stage but one cannot but admire such a positive ambition.   One would assume that this claim relates to their centralised case tracking system which is presumably centrally hosted by In-Deed and updated by the panel Solicitors.

Case tracking is of course nothing new and most case management systems (now the norm rather than the exception) used by lawyers have had the facility, some for over a decade now.

However it is important to point out that case tracking is an online ‘pull’ method of communication and is only as good as the quality and ‘recency’ of the information that goes into it.   As such it has enjoyed varying degrees of success.

Ironically case tracking is often sold by software vendors as a tool to reduce incoming phone calls – in other words a customer firewall to hide behind.   I recall once when pushing the merits of case tracking onto a property portfolio client of mine in the past, he promptly retorted “Tony – you are my case tracker’.

Ever since that comeback,  I have always felt that case tracking is rather an old fashioned means of communicating somewhat akin to leaving messages in a wall and certainly no substitute for ‘push’ communication methods like out going phone calls and email (anyone remember them?).

I have seen (and worked for) firms that have wasted their money on these systems because the implementation was not backed with the necessary ‘three line whip’ required to ensure that the Conveyancers updated the system in real-time.

It would appear that In-Deed will be centrally hosting their system and therein could lie an important distinction.   Although central ‘milestone’ style reporting systems have been used for years by panel managers to ensure capture of associated purchase transactions and completion dates (i.e. pay day), they have rarely been extended for the client’s benefit by the panel manager.

This could be a clever move as In-Deed will be banking on its supreme clout with its panel and will wield a big stick when ensuring prompt and accurate updates of its system.

If it is successful it will, at the very least, save itself the embarrassment of defending a state of the art system presenting out of date information.

But even if properly updated is case tracking really anything more than a novelty?  Possibly, as long as it is not used to deter or frustrate calls from clients (and agents) who seek to engage in actual two way conversation with their ‘liveware’, or Solicitor if you prefer.

If In-Deed it transpires that it is there to augment communication and offer communication channel choices to the consumer then that is value added.

In-Deed seems to be genuine in its desire to improve standards and communication and Phil Spencers Conveyancing endorsement is well placed in highlighting the need to do so.

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