Law firms need accurate information about how their clients evaluate existing and future legal needs and service requirements, and how they assess the "value" provided by the firm and the lawyers with whom they work. Too often, firms and lawyers perceive the “value” they bring to the representation without regard to the client’s frame of reference and there is often a great divide between the two perceptions. While a significant portion of all new business comes from existing clients, many law firms fail to regularly seek feedback from their clients as to how the firm is performing.
We have conducted numerous key client interviews for firms of all sizes obtaining critical information about client satisfaction with individual lawyers as well as overall firm services. In these interviews, we learn what they expect from and like about their outside counsel and what they don’t like about working with outside counsel. They also tell us how a firm or lawyer can best approach them for business and how to ensure that they will provide a referral, if given the opportunity. We are skilled at quickly building rapport with clients and drawing them out to express their views on the most sensitive and significant relationship issues. We help law firms develop strategies that both ensure client retention and increase opportunities for new business. Those clients have ranged from small entrepreneurs and start-ups to Fortune 50 General Counsel and senior executives.
By understanding what clients “like” and “dislike” in the relationship a firm will develop information by which it can differentiate itself from its competition by addressing identified client needs as well as service and relationship issues. Firms report increased revenues after responding to the information provided by the interviews. Although there are many examples of the benefits that are derived from client interviews, we recall a recent situation when a client advised us that it was considering moving all its work to another firm for a number of reasons, most notably due to the lack of responsiveness by the law firm to the client’s administrative requests. The client assumed that the firm did not value the relationship. The firm responded immediately and addressed the client’s specific concerns which ultimately saved a $250,000/year client. Clearly all interviews are not this timely, but we can assure you without exception, that every interview will provide information that is beneficial to every firm.
Law firms that have conducted client interviews have reported that as a result of the client interview initiative the firm was able to:
- Determine levels of client satisfaction with the firm, its lawyers/practice areas
- Strengthen client relationships and prevent the loss of valuable clients
- Determine new business opportunities including cross-selling
- Understand client buying decisions and criteria in selecting law firms
- Identify or isolate service, pricing or billing issues
- Garner a clear perception of the firm's image among clients and in the marketplace
- Benchmark competitor practices, strengths and weaknesses
- Understand the client’s business objectives, trends and industry trends.
- Determine specific areas of improvement and added value
- Assess client willingness to provide an unqualified referral