Well, 2015 is almost here. Time to plan your business development strategies for the coming year. One simple one (albeit a feared one by some lawyers), involves seeking feedback from clients to ensure (or improve) the quality of legal services provided. No one needs to be reminded of how tough and competitive the legal marketplace

Apparently not too many firms according to an online “Leadership Matters” survey (a collaboration of TheRemsenGroup and Sterling Strategies) reported on the Managing Partner Forum this week. The survey sought data on individual lawyer contributions to their firms in the areas of financials, client satisfaction, people development, and firm processes/procedures.

What particularly caught my

It continues to amaze many clients that more law firms do not seek their feedback on the legal services provided. Over the years I have met with dozens of law firm clients, and heard often that they welcome opportunities to provide feedback.

In this economy, client satisfaction surveys are more important than ever. The value

The good news is that some firms are doing client feedback programs; the bad news is that they aren’t really getting the feedback they need. That is, the feedback questions are superficial, and don’t really offer the kinds of return that will actually benefit the firm in retaining the client over the long haul.

An

We were taught in law school, especially as it relates to witnesses at trial or depositions, to not ask a question that we didn’t know the answer to. It’s a preparation thing – as in 90% preparation and 10% inspiration to take some liberty with an old adage. Unfortunately, some lawyers carry the concept over

Do you know the real answer or are you just guessing? Those of us who provide client feedback services, and have reported how favorable clients react to satisfaction surveys, have an obvious bias. But that makes it no less important to ask your clients how you are doing.  I have written a number of times on the topic (see Continue Reading below for some of them), and Aronson/Heintz Associates has a thoughtful piece on their web site. And, last week Joyce Smiley reported on an article in the August issue of The American Lawyer by Editor-in-Chief Aric Press quoting him as saying that “It’s time to talk to your clients…You can either be part of their (clients’) deliberations and process, or you can be surprised by their conclusions.”

Therein lays the rub. If you don’t ask your clients how you are doing, and they have issues, you won’t be part of the process. And you may never learn about possible problems, even after clients have “migrated” to another law firm. It just doesn’t make sense to not protect your most valuable assets – current clients – at least the key ones.

This is so important that I even wrote (to my own potential detriment) in “Of Counsel” last October that it made sense to hire someone in-house full time to do them, as four firms had done. (Unfortunately, two of the four firms no longer have someone in-house dedicated to that role.) Whether you pay a consultant to do the satisfaction surveys or do them in-house isn’t the important point. Doing them is.

Client satisfaction surveys are so simple and relatively inexpensive, when compared to overall marketing budgets in most firms, that it is a wonder that many firms still don’t do them. When one considers that 70%-80% of new business comes from current clients or referral sources (often clients themselves), it is baffling.

So again, why don’t more law firms ask their clients if they are satisfied with their services? I want to say I don’t have a clue, but unfortunately I do. Too many firms are afraid to ask, or think they already know what their clients think, thus negating the need to ask.

Unfortunately, both are wrong answers.


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