There were a couple of different posts by Patrick Lamb at In Search of Perfect Client Service that struck me as being related. Both have to do with one’s ego getting in the way of true help and enlightenment.
The first dealt with a discussion about law firm’s not seeking client feedback. Patrick and I have both done client surveys (in fact, they are on my list of the Top 10 Marketing Tips as No. 3). Neither of us can understand why so few law firms conduct them – and, I would add, in any form (whether by in-person interviews, telephone or written surveys). I’ve had lawyers say “I know what my client’s views are” or “I know what my client needs,” etc. The problem is too many lawyers don’t. It may not just be ego in this case, as I have actually had lawyers admit they don’t want to “stir up any problems” (meaning they’re afraid to ask how they are doing).
His second post mentions several earlier discussions on branding. He takes the discussion further by pointing out how lawyers are not gifted in areas businesspeople take for granted. Here he cites the example of a law firm hiring a talented marketer only to ignore the advice he or she gives the firm. As Patrick puts it “because we lawyers know so much.” Michelle Golden at Golden Practices picked up on that theme and reports how she has seen many a good marketer suppressed over the years, leading to frustration and high turnover of these professionals in law firms. I can personally attest to that based on my in-house marketing experience at a couple of firms over the past two decades.
It reminds me of when our law school professors told us how special we were, and how smart we were too. That is why I relate the story during my seminars of how as lawyers, we know that we can perform brain surgery – if the light were right. It always gets a laugh – well almost always. Sometimes I think there are lawyers who believe it.
The problem is when one’s ego gets in the way of the benefits to be gained from the experience of others – whether it has to do with how to market your law firm or improve client relationships.
Take a look at Patrick’s post for references to his earlier posts on client surveys, as well as pointers by Dan Hull at What About Clients? and Jim Hassett of Law Firm Business Development on satisfaction surveys.