I’ve been doing client interviews since 1990, and I know they do two things well. One, they can save clients before they leave the law firm for another (I really have a dynamite story on that point, but it will take too long to relate it here, so call me if you want to hear it). Second, it leads to new work (first, because they didn’t leave you for that other firm; and because clients have problems sitting on their desk or nearby that they’ve been procrastinating on just like everyone else).
Bruce Allen’s recent article over on Marketing Catalyst hits the nail right on the head as to why client feedback works:
"Do not ever forget — in any relationship, professional or personal, the best thing you can accomplish as often as possible is to remind someone that they matter."
Clients want to know that they matter. Furthermore, I have found they want to be asked what their opinions are on the legal services provided, and the relationship in general.
In my experience, the reason most often cited for not conducting client satisfaction surveys is that partners will argue that if the client has a problem, they would let the lawyer know about it. As Bruce states, that is just plain "silly." I might go a step further and say hogwash. Rather, since most humans tend to avoid conflict whenever possible, they’ll just take their work to another law firm.
Bruce goes on to cite a blog post that my friend and colleague Jim Hassett did a couple of years ago over at Legal Business Development. I would concur that it is a good place to start, if a firm is interested in "getting (its) act together” about seeking client feedback.