In this economy, client satisfaction surveys are more important than ever. In covering this topic many times, I have emphasized the value of improving relationships with current clients and referrals sources. The value is obvious, more business in the form of new matters and additional referrals.

There are two main reasons why you should currently be asking your clients for feedback:

  • Your competitors are asking your clients, and
  • Your clients may be wondering why you aren’t.

An article by Martha Candiello in the March issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Today webzine tells us that those reasons are why client feedback interviews are so necessary. Not just for the reasons mentioned above, but also because it can lead to more work as a result.

Candiello also shares her insight on how to make a client interview program successful. Previously, she was both an in-house corporate counsel, and later director of general counsel relations at Reed Smith.

Her keys to effective client interviews include:

  1. Develop internal support for the program by starting with a pilot program involving some willing partners;
  2. Publicize successes and favorable comments by clients;
  3. Overcome false perceptions by partners that they already “know what clients think about firm,” or clients “are too busy” to participate, etc.;
  4. Ask in-depth questions about clients’ experience beyond “how are we doing?”;
  5. Send someone other than the responsible partner to do the interviewing (e.g., managing partner, senior marketing staff person or outside consultant) to ensure candid and accurate information; and
  6. Prompting respond to any client concerns expressed, even if solutions are not exactly what the client is looking for.

Your firm really needs to do this. As Candiello points out:

“As more firms institute such programs and evolve existing programs to capture even more of their clients’ attention, a firm without a first-rate program is disadvantaged because it is not effectively capitalizing on its client relationships and investment. Once you’ve seen the results of a client interview program, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start one sooner.”