Every law firm needs to plan regular reviews of client satisfaction. The nature of each practice will determine whether this should be done with a few simple questions or a sophisticated formal process. But somehow, it must be done.
There are four main reasons to review client satisfaction systematically:
1) Reviews will identify clients who are at risk of switching to another firm. When JM Associates conducted face to face interviews to measure satisfaction for one group of law firm clients, they found that 22% of them were actively thinking about switching to a different firm.
2) The very act of taking the time to review satisfaction shows clients that you care, and strengthens your relationship. The JM Associates study also reported that “One hundred percent of the clients interviewed were complimentary about the process... [and] looked forward to specific follow-up tailored to their company.”
3) You may increase short-term business. 60% of the clients in the JM Associates study purchased additional services in the two months after the review.
4) You will definitely get new insights into how clients perceive your work and new ideas for improving your service.
If you decide to review client satisfaction, it’s as simple as asking a few questions (see Part 2 of this posting, next week).
For most firms, I recommend formal reviews: 30 to 60 minute face to face meetings with key clients. To assure objectivity and openness, it’s better if the interview is conducted by a senior partner who does not manage the relationship.
Send the questions in advance so clients know what to expect. Make sure that the client knows that your aim is to improve communication and service, and that none of the meeting time will be billed.
The goal of this meeting is to give clients a chance to speak freely. Listen. Take notes. Don’t argue or defend yourself. If you are the kind of person who may be unable to prevent yourself from arguing, consider asking someone else to conduct the interview.
After the meeting, send a thank you, and a short list of action items from the meeting. Then follow up.
Part 2 of this posting will list some of the questions you should ask, and Part 3 will describe how one AmLaw 100 firm -- Akin Gump -- is using client service teams to build stronger relationships and increase new business.