Since I started interviewing law firm clients in 1990 (even used a film crew to capture five of them on a VHS tape – I’ll bet you remember what those are), I have never waivered from the belief that it is one of the most important things a firm can do to retain clients. And developing and enhancing client relationships is what marketing is all about. It is one of the reasons I put client feedback as No. 3 on my Top Ten Marketing Tips list.
Ballard Spahr in Philadelphia has made a major commitment to institutionalize its client feedback process. As reported on several blogs (Mark Beese on his Leadership by Lawyers, Larry Bodine’s Law Marketing Blog and Peter Darling’s Business Development) over the past week, Ballard has hired a full time “client interviewer.” It is reported that the person has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist, so she should be conducting some serious interviews. I agree with Peter that it is a brilliant move.
Your firm may not be in a position to justify the cost of a full time in-house client interviewer (Ballard has 500 lawyers after all), but there is absolutely no reason why your managing partner, or an experienced outside third party, shouldn’t be doing client interviews for your firm. The purpose is to determine how the firm is doing in the relationship, inviting honest feedback on any problems, and to learn what the firm could do better.
It is better to find out if there are problems, that can be corrected, before your key clients decide to try another law firm for their next matter. There is no time to waste.