Lawyers often resist the idea of conducting client satisfaction surveys: They don’t believe people will be honest unless they have complete anonymity, and they don’t believe clients will take the time to complete the survey.
It’s true, many will not complete the survey, but some will. And right now, you probably aren’t collecting any valuable information from your clients. Even worse, the feedback you’re getting is probably in the form of a negative online review.
Here’s What Client Satisfaction Surveys Can Do
If you’re not conducting a satisfaction survey upon closing each client’s case, you should be. Surveys are an excellent tool for improving customer service and increasing positive online reviews. They can bring to light your firm’s weaknesses and strengths and help identify problem employees. They also give you the opportunity to:
- Remind clients to share their positive experience by posting positive reviews on online reputation platforms like Avvo, Google, Yelp, Judy’s Book and Facebook.
- Prevent an upset client from leaving a negative review by allowing them to air their grievances in person or in a survey, reducing the chance that they’ll tarnish your reputation online.
- Solidify your relationships with happy clients — any additional positive communication will inspire them to feel confident referring you.
- Mend relationships with clients who were not happy with you, or with the outcome of their case.
Surveys don’t have to take a lot of time. Typically, clients must sign paperwork to close the file. Simply add five minutes to this appointment to hand them the survey and explain why their feedback is so valuable. If anonymity is a concern, send them home with the survey and a self-addressed stamped envelope.
The Five Questions You Must Include in a Client Satisfaction Survey
These five questions get to the root of issues quickly — and the client can finish the survey in less than 10 minutes. (Click here to download a sample one-page exit survey.)
- Overall, how satisfied were you with our firm’s communication with you?
- How satisfied were you with the outcome of your case?
- Are you likely to refer us to a friend?
- Based on your experience with us, what would you say are the strengths of our firm?
- Based on your experience with us, what would you say are the weaknesses of our firm?
Make it easy to answer the questions by providing a scale (i.e., “Circle one: 1 2 3 4 5”) or “Yes/No” options. Also, be sure to leave room for feedback below each question, so that clients can elaborate on their level of satisfaction — space for approximately 200 words should suffice.
You can add more questions, but I’ve found that the more questions you ask, the less likely people are to complete the survey.
Paper, Email or Automated Survey Platform?
There are many ways to administer client surveys: face-to-face, by personal email message or via an email marketing platform like MailChimp, or with a reputation management platform like Grade.us, which funnels people to online review sites.
An email marketing app allows you to create satisfaction surveys directly in the email message and then send them to your clients en masse, in segmented groups or individually.
With a reputation management platform, you can add a survey landing page or widget to your firm website, as well as send survey reminder emails. The survey will ask your clients to rate their overall satisfaction by clicking on a 1 to 5 satisfaction scale, a thumbs up or down icon, or a smiley or frowning face. To be routed to a review page, your client will have to click a 4 or 5, the thumbs up, or one of the two happiest-looking faces. If they click 1 to 3, or select thumbs down or one of the three least happy faces, a screen will pop up to offer them a feedback box and divert them away from the review sites. The feedback box is intended to prevent them from posting a negative review and to help you find out what their issue is so you can satisfy their concern.
Obviously, the goal here is to prevent people from leaving negative reviews and to push the satisfied people directly to your Google+ or Avvo page to leave positive reviews. Unfortunately, this does not always work. I do not recommend using automated systems for your initial client satisfaction survey for the following reasons:
- Face-to-face communication is much more effective. Talking face-to-face first is your best opportunity to uncover negative issues and put out the fire immediately. Your goal is to make sure unhappy clients do not leave your office until their concerns are dealt with and you have restored their confidence. If doing this in person isn’t feasible, make a phone call when a client matter closes.
- Sending an unhappy client an email asking them to share their experience is asking for a negative review. Most will get past their negative experience with time. Others will have the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality and won’t look back. However, if you start blasting them with Grade.us emails, you are putting people who may have let things go just one or two clicks away from posting negative reviews. This is my biggest issue with Grade.us and similar platforms. They can be useful, but only with happy clients, and at a later point in the process.
How to Encourage More Positive Online Reviews
With a little research, you will learn there are many ways to conduct client satisfaction surveys and encourage positive online reviews. This hybrid model takes advantage of the strengths of each method while mitigating potential negative effects:
- Start with a face-to-face conversation as soon as a matter closes.
- Identify upset clients and address issues. Set an appointment with the lawyer or the person in your office who can fix their issues.
- Identify happy clients and ask them to fill out a written survey. If they say no to the written survey, ask if it is OK to send them an online survey (i.e., via MailChimp or a similar system). Some will prefer the written survey, but offer both options.
- Ask happy clients if you can email them a link to Grade.us (or a similar platform) so they can leave a positive review. Explain how easy it is. (“It only takes one to two clicks and takes you right to our Google+ page.”)
You Can’t Fix Something Unless You Know It’s Broken
Follow this protocol and you will increase your positive online reviews and decrease the likelihood of negative ones.
Ray Gross is founder and CEO of Attorney Internet Marketing LLC. For more than five years, he has successfully helped increase the revenue of his clients by organizing joint marketing programs and coaching in the art of proper lead intake.
More TIPs for Client Feedback
- What to Ask in Your Client Interviews by Linda Hazelton
- How to Manage Difficult Conversations with Clients by Linda Hazelton
- Unhappy Clients Can Destroy Law Practices by Ray Gross
- What You Need to Know About Client Feedback Programs — Ask the LMA Experts
- Check Your Business Development Vital Signs by Merrilyn Astin Tarlton
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