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Best Practice Tips: Client Satisfaction Surveys in Law Firms

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm is a 17-attorney firm is San Diego. We are a boutique business litigation firm and we represent companies of all sizes. We represent several Fortune 500 companies. I am a member of our three-member marketing committee and during our last meeting one of our members suggested that we consider a formal survey of our clients. What are your thoughts regarding client satisfaction surveys? Is this something we should consider?

A. Personally, I believe that if you represent institutional clients such as yours, that soliciting feedback from clients and acting on that feedback is one of the best marketing/client development investments that a firm can make. During a recent client satisfaction telephone interview with a corporate client of a law firm a client told me, "If our lawyers would pay just a little more attention to us, take us to lunch once in a while - without billing for the time . . .if they would treat us like they care ... I'd give them all of our business in the entire state of California." Statements of this sort are not at all uncommon in client satisfaction interviews. Of all investments of a firm's marketing budget, none is as cost effective as a client satisfaction survey.

A law firm's existing clients are important source of continuing and new business for the firm. The most efficient way to bring in business is to sell additional work to existing clients.

Surveying the firm's clients is an effective method of monitoring satisfaction. It is the first step towards improving client relations and increasing revenue from the current client base. A well-designed client satisfaction survey can help a firm do the following:

  • Prevent the loss of important clients
  • Identify specific cross-selling opportunities
  • Improve its service mix
  • Improve the positioning of its services
  • Identify weaknesses in competitors 
  • Understand client needs
  • Anticipate changing client needs
  • Identify client relationship issues

For firms that represent institutional clients I believe that structured telephone interviews are the best survey method.

I have had situations where law firm clients have advised me that they had stopped sending files to the firm due to a relationship issue with a particular partner and the law firms after being appraised of the issues were able to resolve the problem and repair the relationship.
 
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

Click here for articles on other topics

John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, (www.olmsteadassoc.com) 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 jolmstead@olmsteadassoc.com.
 

Posted on January 24, 2018 by Sara Anderson
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