By Terrie S. Wheeler
At one time or another, most law firms will gather around a conference table to brainstorm creative ways in which to unseat their competition and entice clients to move work to their firm – and away from yours. The primary reason for these defections? Clients’ perceived lack of client service, lack of responsiveness, and an overall attitude of complacency on the part of the incumbent law firm. Consider this true story.
A True Story About Client Satisfaction
A partner I once worked with gathered his team together to tell them the difficult news that their primary client was considering moving its work to another law firm. The purpose of the meeting was to brainstorm ways in which to retain the client by identifying how the team could provide better service.
The hour-long brainstorming session resulted in innovative and creative ways to keep the client better informed on the status of their matters and cases, how to more efficiently bill their time, how to build stronger internal relationships with the client, how to be more responsive when the client calls, and a long list of other client-focused ideas. Thrilled with the commitment of his team, the lawyer then said, “Just kidding. The client is not going to fire us. But why aren’t we already doing these things?”
Bottom line? Don’t wait for clients to become disgruntled. Nip possible client service issues in the proverbial bud. Actively solicit feedback from your clients. One of the biggest benefits of asking for feedback is that your client knows you take client satisfaction seriously and that you want to improve the little things, which, combined over time, can lead to client dissatisfaction. Remember that clients are less likely to tell you about service-oriented issues. They will just be more open to that new law firm trying hard to get the client to change firms.
How to Gather Feedback
There are many ways to gather feedback from clients. An organized client satisfaction initiative is the best. First, identify what you want to learn from your clients. Broad survey topics include:
- Overall reputation of the firm and its practice areas.
- Professional expertise.
- Billing rates, fees and clarity of billing statements.
- Proactive approach to handling client matters.
- Perceived value of services provided.
- Accessibility, timeliness and returned phone calls.
- Working relationships with other professionals in firm.
- Communication style/keeping the client informed.
- Responsiveness to email messages.
- Telephone and voice mail system effectiveness.
- Ethics and integrity of professionals.
- Inspiring trust and confidence.
- Creativity and problem-solving on complex business or personal issues.
- Your client’s perception of competitors.
- How the firm might expand its representation of the client.
- The firm’s greatest strengths.
- The firm’s opportunities to improve service.
- How effective firm communications are (website, newsletters, seminars, etc.).
- Overall client service rating of firm professionals and staff.
- Likelihood of your clients to refer more business to you and your firm.
In my next blog, I’ll talk more about specific ways to solicit feedback depending on your client.
Want to survey your clients, but not sure how to get started? Schedule a call with Terrie today!