Conveyancing firms are no different from any other in that respect, and following the interjection of the competition regulator, our members have from December needed to transparently detail their pricing on their website.
This is clearly a good thing, and any provision of information which allows the customer to accurately compare the services of one firm with another is, you might say, well over due.
However – as it tends to always be in such cases – it can be more complicated than it looks on the service.
Thus, in the lead up to this change we have seen plenty of discussion and debate in the industry, not least because of the various different relationships at play.
For example, many firms secure large swathes of their business through introducer or referral agreements, and this creates difficulty in giving an accurate representation of pricing because it might differ depending where the business has been sourced from.
Consumers need the facts
But it is important the conveyancing industry moves into a position where there is transparency around costs.
This is especially so when, for many consumers using the service, what has often appeared to be the price at the outset, does not always end up being the price they have to pay at the finish.
The industry has also had to look at how it sells itself in terms of consumers’ ability to make a fair comparison of those services.
The government is quite rightly very keen on consumers being in possession of all the facts before making a decision, and of course the ability to read reviews and have an idea of the service on offer tends to be the norm across most industries now.
Some conveyancing firms are very good at this; others perhaps not so.
But, to my mind, it’s vitally important that we have transparency in this part of the market and genuine customers who have experienced a firm’s service standards are able to give their thoughts.
No reason not to provide data
To that end, we’ve been talking to our members about how best to deliver this type of information; not only to comply with the new price transparency rules, but to ensure access to information from former customers.
The association has presented a number of options to member firms about how we might work with service review-type websites and indeed a large number already work closely with sites such as Trust Pilot.
Indeed, at our last full-scale meeting of members we had a presentation from that very organisation.
There is also clearly a role here for advisers and indeed lenders.
If you are putting customers in contact with conveyancing firms I see no reason why you shouldn’t be providing this price and service information to them.
In the firing line
Indeed, given that you’re making a recommendation, I would have thought it was vital that you clearly understand the service levels of a firm that you are delivering clients to.
Would you want to be in the firing line if a firm’s service does not meet the standards expected if you’d made that recommendation?
The positive here is that you will now have more information to delve into about the aspects of the conveyancing firm’s service, and this should help deliver far better recommendation decisions.
No business should be immune from this type of transparency or scrutiny and we believe those member firms who continue to show the quality and value of their service will ultimately be the ones to benefit from these changes.