Client feedback has been called the “single most effective marketing strategy a law firm can implement,” and for good reason. Seeking out — and proactively responding to — client feedback offers numerous benefits, including:
- Strengthening client relationships
- Developing new business opportunities and new ways to help clients
- Correcting any missteps that you’ve made before they cause irreparable damage
- Rewarding and encouraging high performers and outstanding efforts
- Focusing your energies on high-return initiatives (and scuttling projects that don’t matter to clients)
When you make time to tell your clients how much you value their business and demonstrate that value by asking them what you can do to improve, you almost guarantee that they’ll feel better about your services. Even better, client feedback sessions can naturally evolve into strategic discussions about the direction of your clients’ business, their short- and long-term goals and their legal and business needs. You may well be able to help them meet those goals — but only if you know about them.
As an aside: don’t shy away just because you might hear some negative feedback. The truth is, you’re unlikely to hear anything awful that you didn’t already know. If you do, isn’t it better to find out before you’ve entirely lost the client’s business with no idea what you did wrong and no opportunity to improve?
HOW TO ASK CLIENTS FOR FEEDBACK
Client feedback programs can span a spectrum of options in terms of formality, depth, complexity and use of technology. If you haven’t been gathering any feedback, it’s probably wise to start with a pilot program within a single practice area or client group. Use that pilot to explore different approaches to gathering feedback. Depending on the client and the depth of feedback you’re interested in, you might try one of these approaches:
- Add a single-question net promoter score (NPS) query in standard email communications (“On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our practice?”).
- Ask clients to complete a multiquestion survey delivered online and in hard copy.
- Schedule post-engagement conversations to explore overall satisfaction and areas for improvement.
- Conduct in-person strategic visits at the client’s office.
With each approach, evaluate a variety of choices to find the right intensity. For example, should the attorney in charge of the account visit the client or should a managing partner? Which stakeholder should they meet with? What should they ask? When should they stick to the standard survey questions and when can they go off-script? (You can even get meta about it, asking clients how they feel about you soliciting feedback and your methods of doing so.)
When you make time to tell your clients how much you value their business and demonstrate that value by asking them what you can do to improve, you almost guarantee that they’ll feel better about your services.
In-person feedback sessions are particularly valuable opportunities to gather information about how your practice can help clients with other needs. How can you make their life easier? What are they stuck on or struggling with? What’s frustrating them in their daily work? They may be holding back about these “non-legal” issues because they aren’t aware that you can help.
To all those working in corporate legal departments, this advice applies to you as well. If you circulate around the different business units within your company asking these questions, you’re likely to find several areas where you can provide valuable service, which helps to justify the existence and the budget of the legal department.