How to turn legal clients into raving fans – Part 4 of 5
As the market for legal services becomes more competitive, firms are increasingly applying knowledge from other businesses to create what management guru Ken Blanchard calls “raving fans.”
The book Raving Fans has sold over a million copies, based on the message “Satisfied customers just aren’t enough.” It describes a process built on three simple rules:
1. Decide what you want – Start with a vision of the perfect client relationship, because you can’t be all things to all people.
2. Discover what the customer wants – Then listen to customers and adapt your vision so that you “work within the customer window.”
3. Deliver plus one percent. – The key word here is “deliver” – one must always provide just what was promised, with no exceptions. Before you worry about exceeding expectations in some cases, you must make sure that you meet expectations every single time. The extra one percent is designed to encourage continuous improvement, in small and manageable steps. If you improve just one percent per week, at the end of a year you will be more than 50% better.
A number of experts have offered lists of how law firms should do this. Obviously, it starts by identifying what is most critical to your clients
Last January, I wrote about a speech by Paul Clifford, formerly the managing partner at Gadsby Hannah and now a principal at Law Practice Consultants, on Law Firms in the 21st Century. He said that to succeed in today’s challenging environment lawyers must provide:
Availability and accessibility
Speed, execution and responsiveness
In depth expertise
A team approach, in which clients have access to more than just the relationship partner
Understanding the client’s business
In a a presentation on “Creating a Sales Culture in Law Firms” at the Legal Marketing Association’s national conference in 2004, Mark Beese and David Freeman quoted a list from Brewer research of the top ten things clients look for in their firms:
Returns phone calls promptly
Delivers technically superior work
Understands my business and industry
Assigns appropriate staffing level
Keeps me posted on work in progress
Charges reasonable fees
Is innovative in solving my problems
Is aggressive in solving my legal problems
In a large firm, management must create systems which encourage these behaviors, and establish systems to measure performance and quickly intervene when things slip, as they inevitably will. The notion that the client is always right must become part of the firm’s culture. For advice on how, see the final part of this series next week.