Surveys of law firm clients

In our Managing Partners Roundtable discussion this morning, we talked about the effect and value of surveys. Not enough law firms ask their clients "how am I doing?" Too often, marketing gurus suggest that written surveys be sent in the mail after a matter or litigation is concluded. I suggest that this is the wrong time … no matter what you learn from the responses (and in my experience, you won’t get many responses, probably not even a statistically valid amount), it’s after the fact. That means that you will not be able to salvage that client relationship if there is real dissatisfaction!

One of my clients taught me an important lesson:  Send a short survey with the first billing. If there is anything wrong, it’s best to know at the beginning when you have time to correct any deficiency.

Most lawyers are reluctant to ask the question. They’re afraid of the answer. But, what better result could you get than to be told there is something that you can correct … and thereby strenghthen the relationship when you do. The client feels appreciated and heard … and recognizes that you care enough to ask and to make a change.

In larger firms, we concluded that it is very beneficial for the managing partner to periodically visit the top 10 clients of the firm. Even when I was in industry, the fact that I as CEO cared enough to visit a customer had a dramatic impact on our relationship and the buyer’s/customer’s goodwill toward us.

Bottom line, we don’t exist in a vacuum. We must understand and know the needs and wants of our clients … and what better way to find than to ask, directly. In addition, this process confirms that the relationship is between the client and the firm, not an individual lawyer in the firm. 

Obviously, there was much more said this morning, but this concept caused the managing partners to vow to make changes in their firms. What are you prepared to do in your relationships?

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