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September 06, 2006

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
Listening
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:

Expertise
Client service
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.

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This material was adapted from my new book Legal Business Development: A Step by Step Guide, which will be published September 25, and which can be ordered now on my web page.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference How to turn legal clients into raving fans – Part 4 of 5:

» Jim Hassett's Raving Fans. from What About Clients?
Don't miss Jim Hassett's ongoing 5-part series on the toughest single thing any firm tackles: "How To Turn Legal Clients Into Raving Fans". Jim publishes once a week, Wednesdays, and his posts at Legal Business Development are always thoughtful, valubl... [Read More]

» Jim Hassett's Raving Fans. from What About Clients?
Don't miss Jim Hassett's ongoing 5-part series on the toughest single thing any firm tackles: "How To Turn Legal Clients Into Raving Fans". Jim publishes once a week, Wednesdays, and his posts at Legal Business Development are always thoughtful, valubl... [Read More]

Comments

Jim -- of all the points you raised, listening is the most important. See Listening Your Way to New Business at http://www.larrybodine.com/Listening.htm. According to a German proverb, "A man has two ears and one mouth so that he hears much and speaks little." Mark Twain followed up the thought by saying, "If we were meant to talk more than listen, we would have two mouths and one ear." And I'll add: We were given two ears and one mouth, and they should be used in that proportion in a sales call.

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