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21 October 2013
How many of your firm's clients have you met recently to discuss their satisfaction with the firm's performance?
Providing a client-centric service means tailoring your firm's services to your clients' specific needs. Traditionally, law firms have second-guessed their clients' requirements. However, a firm can stand out by asking its leading clients pertinent questions.
The review process
Invite clients to participate by telling them that your aim is to ask them how your service can be improved. Meeting key clients face-to-face is the most effective way to obtain feedback. Surveys sent by post have an unsatisfactory response rate and do not provide opportunities to probe deeper. The best person to carry out the review might be an unconnected partner or an objective third party. Clients are surprisingly honest when speaking to someone distanced from the firm with whom they will not be required to work subsequently. Tailor each interview to the client by giving advance thought to relevant topics. You may also need to record the interviews, preferably on tape, with your clients' consent. After the meetings, send thank you notes and detail follow-up items from the meetings. It is essential to complete these and meet any raised expectations of your clients following the feedback.
Themes to include in feedback interviews are:
Client feedback can achieve many outcomes:
Client service teams
Larger law firms find it effective to set up client service teams. These teams are able to penetrate clients' businesses, identifying their legal needs and working together as partners. The firm benefits by understanding the scope of services required by the client and can appreciate clients' expectations, budgetary constraints and the need for regular communication. The clients benefit from bespoke, proactive legal services.
Members of the team may include lawyers from several offices, chosen to fit the needs of the clients. The team leader is responsible for recruiting and coaching other members, building commitment and following up on action items following client reviews.
Janine Collins is legal solutions director of consultancy Client Intelligence