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Question: We’d like to start a client feedback program. What do we need to consider when implementing this type of program?
Jim Jarrell: I think it’s safe to say that every firm needs some form of a client feedback program. How your particular program will look depends on your firm’s goals, size, resources and budget. Whether you desire a robust, structured program for client engagement or simply create a survey to measure results, there are three things to consider when implementing your own program:
Another idea you should consider for soliciting feedback is social media. It’s fairly easy nowadays to keep track of interactions on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media platforms. The key to leveraging these channels to the max is interaction. When a client gives kudos, thank them publicly for it, and when they express dissatisfaction, take the time to reach out to them, take the conversation offline, and address their concerns.
Nobody said it would be easy. If it was, every firm would already be doing it!
Jim Jarrell is the director of marketing and practice development for Stark & Stark, A Professional Corporation. He recently moved to New Jersey from Chicago, where he was the business development manager for Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s litigation department. Follow him on Twitter @JimJarrell.
Measure what matters. Focus on what is and will be important to your clients. Ask structured and measurable questions, as well as unstructured questions that are related to your client’s challenges, emerging needs and future plans.
Measure the right way. Determine what methodology to use to secure feedback from your clients. There is no one-size-fits-all methodology. It depends on your law firm, the industries you serve and the clientele you represent. Primary considerations:
1. Who will conduct the client surveys?
2. What survey method will you use?
Measure with purpose and intent. Define the analysis method(s) you will use for the data collected: Do you want firm-wide statistics or practice group comparisons? Consider how you will present the results to your firm. Determine how you will use the data to better position yourself with your clients. Last, decide how will you follow through with your clients. Always follow through. Otherwise, your clients may assume that their feedback was meaningless and that assumption could hurt your relationships.
Stacy A. Smith is the firm administrator and director of marketing and client relations at Carter Conboy, a full-service law firm with offices in Albany and Saratoga Springs, New York.
Ian Turvill: The ostensible purpose of a client feedback program is precisely as it appears — to gain input from clients on the performance of your firm in delivering legal services. However, in many instances, the actual outcome of such an exercise is to learn far more about a client’s broader business needs, opening the door for yet more work across more practice areas. So, the first consideration for any “doubters” in your firm is to acknowledge that this exercise supports revenue growth.
With that in mind, the second consideration has to be which clients you will choose to participate. Do you reach out to established clients, or do you find out more about those who have only recently been acquired? If you aim to grow relationships, then the latter category might be the better bet.
Finally, while many clients are only going to have good things to say, the process will inevitably elicit negative comments about other attorneys, staff, or overall firm performance. Be careful and sensitive about how you share this feedback: Some may be hurt or offended by this guidance, and it may hinder future cooperation.
Ian Turvill is the CMO of Freeborn & Peters LLP, a full-service firm headquartered in Chicago. Turvill is currently a chair of the Legal Marketing Association Midwest Chapter at Chicago City Group. He was previously elected as the National Marketing Scholar of the Year by the American Marketing Association. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @IanTurvill.
No, not every law firm has a professional marketer or business development coach on staff to answer questions. So send us your questions via email or in the comment section below, and we’ll pass them on to the experts at the Legal Marketing Association. Watch for the best responses here in Ask the Expert.
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