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Law Firm Client Surveys: How to Collect and Report the Data

Asked and Answered 

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. We have a 16-attorney firm in Chicago. Our marketing committee has been discussing implementing a client survey program. We are not sure where to start or how best to collect and report the data. Your thoughts would be appreciated.


Surveys can be used for a variety of purposes, including the following:

  • Client satisfaction survey
  • Key client survey
  • Lost client survey
  • Market survey

I assume that you are planning on conducting a client satisfaction survey in order to solicit feedback on how well the firm is meeting client needs, quality of services being provided, and additional client needs.

The type of survey will depend on whether your clients are individuals or institutional clients, such as corporate or governmental. If your clients are institutional, I recommend that you conduct telephone interviews using a questionnaire consisting of quantitative and qualitative questions. If you have a large number of institutional clients, then you may want to consider conducting these interviews with your top 50, 25, or 10 clients, and use a paper mail survey or online survey for the remainder. For individual clients, you may want to use a paper or online survey for your entire database and thereafter a paper or online survey at the conclusion of the matter. Another option would be to survey a random sample of your clients.

Once completed, the questionnaires or surveys will need to be tabulated and provided in some form of a report. Some firms use two Excel spreadsheets – one for the quantitative responses and one for the qualitative/narrative responses. Then averages, percentages, and other summary statistics can be calculated for the quantitative responses. If you use an online survey service such as SurveyMonkey, the tabulation and statistics will be included. If you have a SurveyMonkey account, you can also enter your interview questionnaire and paper mail questionnaire responses into the program and use it rather than Excel. If you want a more sophisticated statistical analysis, you might want to look into statistical software such as SPSS, which is sold and marketed by IBM.

Once you have analyzed the questionnaires, you may want to prepare a summary report document using your word processing software. Include the tabulation, statistical calculations, and charts as attachments to the report.

There are several articles on our website that discuss client satisfaction survey programs and how to get started.

Click here for our blog on client service
Click here for our article on client satisfaction
Click here for our article on client surveys 
Click here for our article on analyzing survey results
Click here for our article on developing your client service improvement plan
Click here for our article on tips for rewarding and recognizing employees

John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, ( is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics and author of The Lawyers Guide to Succession Planning published by the ABA. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA listserver, which John and other committee members review, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. Contact John at

Posted on May 16, 2018 by Rhys Saunders
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