How satisfied are your legal clients with your services? Have you conducted law firm client surveys or performed one-on-one client interviews to gain valuable feedback on how you can improve your law practice?
Your clients are a wealth of (usually untapped) information that can offer an outside perspective of your firm. Take them to lunch or send them a letter asking them to evaluate your performance and how satisfied they are with your service.
If you know what to ask, you can uncover your firm’s strengths and potential growth opportunities. Your clients can tell you the areas where you excel and areas that need improvement. They can also give you insight on why they chose your firm initially, which is especially valuable to know when clients switch from other firms to yours.
Happy clients don’t switch, so learning why they switched can give you real insight into your clients’ expectations.
Why Conduct Law Firm Client Surveys?
Most firms don’t ask for client feedback during or after the project. This can be a mistake because often, how lawyers think clients perceive them is different from how they are actually perceived. If you ask for feedback up front, you’ll learn of problems well in advance and can do something to correct the matter. Collecting client feedback doesn’t mean looking solely for negative feedback. Positive feedback can help you understand your strengths and why future clients might buy from you.
A number of companies have conducted studies on client satisfaction and how that relates to retention. For instance, AT&T found that:
- only ‘very satisfied’ customers count (those that were just ‘satisfied’ still left)
- other things besides price factor into customer thinking (like service and responsiveness)
- these scores must be relative to competitors
Similarly, research firm, BTI, conducted a survey in 2002 of 187 corporate counsel at Fortune 1000 corporations. They found that clients see superior client service, established relationships, and excellent responsiveness as the distinguishing characteristics of the best performing law firms. What that means is that ‘satisfying’ clients is no longer enough. They have to be ‘very satisfied’ to remain loyal to you.
For more information on doing marketing research, check out the article I wrote on Conducting Consumer Research.
Who Were Your Last 5 Clients?
A helpful exercise you can to get a sense for your current marketing process is to evaluate your last 5 clients. This exercise is designed to get you thinking about the buying process of real people.
Too often, firms approach marketing as a generality – “most clients want this or do that.” By focusing on real people with real problems and concerns, you can move past stereotypes and look at why these specific people hired you and how satisfied they were with your services.
It’s helpful to pick at least 3 “good clients” – people you’d like to continue working with – and at least 1 or 2 clients” – people you hope never to work with again.
For each client, answer the following questions:
- How did he/she find out about you?
- Why did he/she need your services?
- What was his/her role in making a decision to hire you? Who else was involved (ie boss, spouse, family member, coworkers, etc)?
- What were his/her major concerns about hiring you?
- How much education did he/she need before being able to make an informed decision to hire you? What kinds of questions did he/she ask you to explain?
- How long did it take from initial contact to signing an agreement?
- What was the best thing about working with this client?
- Would you want to work with this client again? Why/why not?
- Did any problems come up when you worked with him/her (ie not paying bills on time, not managing expectations, any arguments, etc) If so, what could you have done to avoid such problems?
- Would this client refer others to you? Why/why not?
- Has this client referred others to you?
These questions can be tailored to a one-page survey you can ask clients to fill out, depending on the type of information you seek.
Finally, if you’ve had any clients that you lost during the job, look into the reasons why and how you can improve your client relations in the future. This may be a change in their current needs (they decided they didn’t need legal services), a competitor offered a sweeter deal, they were referred to someone else, or they felt you weren’t responsive or accessible. If you can, find out why they left and work towards not repeating the same mistake.