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June 13, 2007

The top 16 ways to increase client satisfaction

In business, nothing is more important than satisfying your current clients. They pay your rent, your employees, and your salary, and they are the most likely source of new business.

In a recent LexisNexis study, the good news was that every law firm said they had a client retention program in place. The bad news was that most had no way of evaluating the success of their program or of measuring client retention (61%). The majority did not even keep a list of which clients were most at-risk to take their business elsewhere (55%).

When I gave the keynote speech at the quarterly meeting of a 300 lawyer firm in Chicago last week, my topic was “How to Increase New Business by Increasing Client Satisfaction.” As they say in cliché school, it’s not brain surgery. First, you find out what clients want. Then you give them more.

Note I did not say that you figure out what clients need. Legal needs are very important to you, your partners, and long term success. But in the short run your clients may look at things from a different perspective. So start by listening to clients to understand how they define value, then give them what they want, and more.

When my book Legal Business Development: A Step by Step Guide came out last fall, my favorite section was the “Checklist for Current Clients” (p. 11), listing “the top ways to start turning clients into ‘raving fans.’” Since then, I’ve continued to revise the list as the legal profession continues to evolve. Here is a preview of an updated list of the top ways to increase client satisfaction which appears in The LegalBizDev Success Kit:

Pick an item that fits your top client, and start today.

1. Schedule a free visit to a client’s office.
2. Schedule monthly telecons “off the clock.”
3. Conduct a formal client satisfaction interview.
4. Ask clients how you can increase the value they receive.
5. Measure the value you provide and discuss the results with your client.
6. Improve communication about the business implications of legal matters.
7. Promote efficiencies, and tell clients about them.
8. Tell clients how to control or reduce legal costs.
9. Consider alternative rate structures.
10. Increase transparency in budget estimates and billing.
11. Deepen and broaden contacts at your top clients.
12. Offer top clients special treatment.
13. Establish communication protocols for your next engagement.
14. Send weekly or monthly progress reports.
15. Create or improve client service teams.
16. Repeat what has worked in the past.

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» Increasing Client Satisfaction from Client Service for Law Firms
While I certainly have reservations about some of what he recommends, there are some great ideas posted on Jim Hassett's blog containing suggestions for improving client service. I highly recommend checking it out, but let me add my disclaimer. I... [Read More]

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