Daily Dispatch

Marketing Your Law Firm

Last Question to Ask a Client

By | Nov.26.13 | Client Relations, Daily Dispatch, Law Practice Management, Legal Marketing

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In his post last week, Joshua Lenon homed in on the “First Question to Ask a Client.” So, at the other end of the process, when you’ve wrapped up the matter, what should your final question be? For many lawyers, it might just be, “Cash or charge?” Today, Joshua says that’s a mistake.

Just as there is much to learn from clients in the beginning of a matter, you can let closing a matter be a learning moment for you as well. This is your opportunity to learn from your clients how satisfied (or unsatisfied!) they are with your services. But how many lawyers and firms take advantage of the chance?

Most Law Firms Fail to Get Client Feedback

It’s true. A report by Martindale-Hubbell found that 52 percent of law firms surveyed did not seek formal feedback from their clients. Among the firms that did not seek feedback, 59 percent said it was “not a priority” for the firm’s leadership. In addition, 38 percent said they had “insufficient staff or resources” to obtain feedback.

That last number is surprising. Client feedback can be easily and cheaply obtained. In fact, the report found that among the firms that did seek feedback, 64 percent invested less than 5 percent of their firm’s marketing budget to get feedback. Low-cost online services, like Wufoo and SurveyMonkey, let users design their own surveys and even handle collecting and collating data from those surveys.

Importantly, asking for client feedback often leads to more business. BTI Consulting Group’s research has found that law firms that excel at client service have a 30 percent higher profitability and 35 percent higher client retention, and can sustain higher rates.

One of BTI’s key findings was this: Firms that deliver the best client service engage in client outreach to bring thinking and feedback into the culture of the law firm.

Yet more than half of law firms give up this learning opportunity — along with the chance to gain more business.

Why Does Soliciting Client Feedback Create More Business?

While the list of reasons to ask for feedback is long, it starts with these critical points:

  • It lets clients know, in a tangible way, that you value them and their opinions.
  • It helps identify problems that need to be fixed before they become endemic.
  • It lets firms assess client satisfaction for additional selling opportunities.

Given the benefits your firm can reap, why not develop a matter-closing process that includes soliciting client feedback? Develop a short survey that lets the client rank you and your services. Tally this information over time and see what it tells you about ways to improve your practice.

Make the last question you ask your client, “How did I do?

Joshua Lenon is an attorney and Director of Communications at Clio, where he focuses on scholarship and marketing skills, with an interest in the intersection of law and technology. Previously, Joshua helped legal practitioners improve their services, working for Thomson Reuters’ publishing departments. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaLenon.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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6 Responses to “Last Question to Ask a Client”

  1. Michael Oppenheim
    26 November 2013 at 5:26 am #

    Joshua,

    I fully appreciate where you are going with this, and is much needed, but with full respect, never ask a client a question that they could give you a “non-answer” or one word answer, e.g. closed question. You will likely get “good” “fine” “ok’ at best.

    I would suggest to that end I would suggest, rather than “how did I do?” Ask a totally open ended question. Such as:

    What do you feel I could do better to service you?
    Do you feel there was anything lacking in my service to you or that of my Firm?
    How does the service that myself and my Firm compare to the service that you have received previously?
    If you could give me just one suggestion to improve your customer experience, what would it be?

    Just a few ideas. I like the direction you are going, as lawyers are typically very insular (and hence not very good) when it comest to customer service. Keep pushing the envelope !

    All the best

    MIKE

  2. Sarah
    26 November 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    It is always a nice idea to survey your customers, but if you’re like me you’re getting survey fatigue. Every restaurant, retail store, and online purveyor is surveying you and begging you to do it. Most often people tend not to respond to the survey unless they’re really upset or it was an over the top experience. While this isn’t valuable data, you’re only capturing the outliers and not necessarily getting fully reflective data points.

  3. Brian Wheeler
    26 November 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Thanks for the good article. I don’t ask for formal written feedback but I have recently started doing file closing phone calls with clients and asking for feedback. I think this will be a valuable source to help improve my customer service.

  4. Mike O'Horo
    27 November 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    Post-engagement review is critical for all the reasons expressed and many more. Often overlooked, however, is that, if the feedback is positive, that phone interaction (forget online surveys; you’ll get Pablum, if anything) is also your best time to ask for referrals.

    You have two honeymoons with a client:
    1) Immediately after they hire you, when expectations and confidence are high; and
    2) Immediately after doing a good job.

    The goodwill shelf life diminishes fairly rapidly after that, as memories fade and people’s attention is redirected to the next fire to put out.

    Client satisfaction surveys that ask if clients have referred suppliers show a high percentage of “no” replies. The follow up question, “Why not?” gets a high percentage of “Nobody ever asked me” replies.

    You ask, you get. Ask.

  5. Owen Hogarth
    30 November 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    I would have to agree with @Michael Oppenheim.
    You don’t want to ask questions that shuts down the conversation. People often forget things or just remember after some time, leaving the door open with probing questions allow your clients to opportunity to come back to you with anything that they might remember at a later time.

  6. Tom Butcher
    28 August 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    Good article. I agree with the posters to the forum regarding obtaining feedback.


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