The Bar News

Best Practice Tips: Developing a Client-Service Improvement Plan

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. We have a 24-attorney litigation firm in Pittsburgh. We represent insurance companies and business firms. We recently conducted a client satisfaction survey of our top-tier clients via telephone and face-to-face interviews. We have discovered that we have numerous issues regarding client satisfaction. Where do we go from here?

A. Nothing is more important to your firm’s future than exceptional client service. An effective client-service improvement program is one of the most important marketing initiatives that a firm can undertake. National studies demonstrate that approximately 70 percent of clients who stop using a particular attorney do so because they feel they were treated poorly or indifferently, and 30 percent changed attorneys because their previous attorneys weren’t available. Clearly, from what law firm clients are telling us is that attorneys and law firms need to improve client service by integrating a client-first service focus into everyday practice.

Frequently when we mention action plans and implementation to a group of attorneys we get the following reactions and responses:

  • Let’s create a committee and study the matter further.
  • We need more time.
  • We don’t have enough data or information.
  • We have always done things this way and we don’t want to change.
  • We don’t have time to do it.
  • We are already busy. We don’t need any more business. Everything is fine the way it is.

Moving from debate to action planning and implementation is difficult for attorneys. However, unless a firm can move from debate and ideas to actual accountability and implementation, it will remain anchored in the past in a field of dreams, obsolete practices, and unhappy clients.

Here is a road map to help you get started:

  • Assemble the client-service improvement team.
  • Review the issues discovered from the client survey.
  • Identify and write a client-service mission statement and client-service goals.
  • Brainstorm solutions you can and are willing to implement.
  • Put together the client-service improvement plan.
  • Implement the plan.
  • Notify clients, especially the clients that were interviewed, of the changes that the firm will be implementing.

Click here for our article on developing your client-service improvement plan
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

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 October 24, 2018 by Rhys Saunders
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