« How to review client satisfaction - Part 2 | Main | Law firms in the 21st Century »

January 11, 2006

How to review client satisfaction - Part 3

Parts 1 and 2 of this posting described how small and mid-sized firms can set up an informal client review process. Large firms need more formal processes. In this posting, I’ll discuss Akin Gump’s client service teams, one of the best known and most successful programs to date.

It all starts with commitment, and in September 2003 this 900 lawyer firm showed its commitment to client satisfaction by creating a new position for an ombudsman to serve on behalf of the firm’s clients. The goal was to add value for clients by providing better service and communications, and to become more proactive in anticipating and meeting client needs.

Iris_jones
Akin Gump recruited Iris Jones, a litigation attorney and certified mediator, who was then serving as the first police monitor and ombudsman for the city of Austin, Texas. At that time, Akin Gump -- like most law firms – did not have a single team that conducted formal reviews of client satisfaction. Now, just over two years later, over 60 client service teams are measuring client satisfaction, and acting on the results.

As I explained last June in this blog (see “No A plus's, but lots of new business”), Akin Gump’s basic approach revolves around a formal 90 minute meeting with each client. The process is highly structured, and begins with a training program for all participants. A lawyer is appointed to lead each client service team, to manage both the Akin Gump members and the client relationship. The team leader is responsible for everything from recruiting and coaching other members to scheduling meetings, building commitment and consensus, and following up on action items that emerge from the reviews.

The process is built around a 15 step checklist starting with background research on each client, including an analysis of “missed opportunity areas” in which the client uses other law firms, when they could be using Akin Gump. A customized list of about 30 critical questions is created for each client, and sent to the client in advance so they can prepare for the meeting and know what to expect.

The team leader not only conducts the meeting, but also drafts an action plan to improve client service. Typical action items that have come out of these meetings have included:
o training lawyers to write bills to maximize transparency, and assure that clients understand what they are paying for.
o controlling cost by managing the flow of information between the client and the firm to “reduce the number of touches.”
o creating written work plans that inform the client about who will work on each legal project, what they will do, and what to expect.
o scheduling follow-up meetings between key players.

Most importantly, the team leader’s job includes following up, to make sure that all of these action items are actually completed, and that the client is not just satisfied with the results, but delighted. Because the best way to protect and increase revenue is to meet the client service team’s fundamental goal: to protect, preserve, and expand relationships.

For more about Akin Gump’s approach, see Bruce Marcus’ excellent online article “All Together Now – It’s Our Client: The Client Service Team As A Growing Phenomenon.” It explains provides significant details about how “a growing number of firms have discovered the benefits of using the client service team as an approach to dealing with larger clients, for both better service and better client relations.” As Bruce sums it up: “The client service team is a 21st century answer to the dramatic changes in the professions and the clients they serve.”

Quotations reprinted with permission from THE MARCUS LETTER ON PROFESSIONAL SERVICES MARKETING (www.marcusletter.com). Copyright Bruce W. Marcus (marcus@marcusletter.com). All rights reserved.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c72a653ef00d83426040653ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference How to review client satisfaction - Part 3:

» Polling The Real Jury--"So Clients, How Are We Doing?" from What About Clients?
Jim Hassett at Law Firm Business Development just finished the third of three excellent posts I've been reading--all on what I think of as client polling. Part 3 goes a little further and discusses the client service team concept, good... [Read More]

» Polling the Real Jury--Hassett Redux from What About Clients?
Jim Hassett at Law Firm Business Development has yet another nice post entitled "How To Review Client Satisfaction--Part 4" on the subject what I call client polling, or client interviews. For a variety of reasons, this is a truly important... [Read More]

» Polling the Real Jury--Hassett Redux from What About Clients?
Jim Hassett at Law Firm Business Development has yet another nice post entitled "How To Review Client Satisfaction--Part 4" on the subject what I call client polling, or client interviews. For a variety of reasons, this is a truly important... [Read More]

» Polling the Real Jury--Hassett Redux from What About Clients?
Jim Hassett at Law Firm Business Development has yet another nice post entitled "How To Review Client Satisfaction--Part 4" on the subject that I call client polling, or client interviews. For a variety of reasons, this is a truly important... [Read More]

» Client Interviews: Another View From The Peanut Gallery from Legal Marketing Blog
Only because I believe so strongly in the value of conducting client interviews that I accept Dan Hull’s challenge and weigh in on a discussion already well covered by several other bloggers, all of whom I very much respect. Client... [Read More]

Comments

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

My Photo
Selected Top Blog: ABA TECHSHOW 2010
Selected Top Blog: ABA TECHSHOW 2009
Selected Top Blog: TechnoLawyer
Selected Top Blog: Legal Marketing Reader

Search blog

Email future posts to me

Custom blog design by Ginny Weaver Design