You just negotiated a generous five-figure settlement with the city for your client’s trip-and-fall claim. You thought she was happy with you and your service. Then, you see her Facebook post. While she writes that she is thrilled with the outcome of the case, she tells a friend in the comments that she couldn’t recommend her attorney. “He never responded to my calls quickly and he was kinda mean,” she writes about you.
You just lost a valuable referral opportunity.
About 85% of small law firms and attorneys define “success” as client satisfaction, according to the Thomson Reuters 2019 Report on the State of the Legal Market. What’s “puzzling,” the report says, is only 37% of firms and attorneys measure client satisfaction. Those that do saw a significant improvement in client satisfaction from one year to the next, the report notes. “The old cliché holds that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. But it is equally true that you should measure what matters to you,” the report says. “And in this case, measuring makes a difference.”
There are both proactive and passive approaches law firms, and attorneys can take to gain client feedback. Whichever method, or combination of methods, you use, know that capturing clients’ insights, concerns, and opinions is an important and powerful way to effect positive change and grow your business.
Three Ways Law Firms Can Obtain Client Feedback
Review Existing Notes and Communications
The beauty of this passive approach to collecting client feedback is that the information is already yours. Look at your own notes, re-listen to voicemails, and reread email threads with the client both during and after the engagement to look for satisfaction signals. There may be patterns you missed before: Exasperation because you didn’t return phone calls or confusion because you did not effectively communicate and manage expectations. Use this feedback to objectively review your client service approach and find ways to make meaningful adjustments. It may be too late for this last client, but your next one will be thankful for the better service — which could translate to repeat and referred business.
Proactively asking current and former clients about their satisfaction with you is the most effective and direct way to get the valuable input you need to evaluate your client service. Some firms will send an online survey, while others schedule interviews (usually conducted by a third party or someone at the firm other than the attorney on the matter) to obtain client feedback. Even just a one-question follow-up email asking for feedback at the conclusion of a matter may be adequate. Whichever approach you choose, be sure it:
Is short – ideally, you don’t want to use more than 10 minutes of your client’s time.
Includes open-ended questions to allow for thoughtful responses.
Doesn’t include leading or loaded questions.
Always thank the client for their time and insight and never judge or argue with them for their answers.
There can be a wealth of feedback online that you and your firm can gather about client satisfaction. Some are in obvious locations, like Google or Avvo reviews. But other digital activities can reveal insights into clients’ and perspectives clients’ interests, preferences, and feelings. Law firms and attorneys should seek out this data and incorporate it into marketing, business development, and client service. Here are a few online sources of client feedback:
Law firm website analytics show what topics, practices, and professionals clients and prospective clients are most interested in. In this day of instant gratification and DIY, law firms must consider information sharing via content as a form of client service. There are certain expectations clients have about what they can learn from a law firm’s website, so be sure you are providing it. Analytics can help determine what content the website should include more of and help you identify changes to ensure the in-demand information is easily accessible.
Like in the example above, chances are your clients are active on social media. While you may not be able to access all their channels, it could pay off to occasionally search for them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. to see if they are discussing you and your service. Lawyers, understandably, will likely not want to “friend” or “follow” clients on social media, but there may be posts that can be read without those connections. Search your name and the firm’s name in social media platforms regularly to find discussions about you.
Set up Google Alerts with your name and your firm’s name to get an alert any time they are mentioned online.
When or if you find negative comments about your client service, don’t respond publicly — but do respond. Don’t be defensive. Show the client you are concerned and ask if there is anything you can do to improve the situation.
What To Do Before And After Collecting Client Feedback
It helps to identify what you’re trying to measure before you start a client satisfaction program. From attorney performance to convenient parking, a client’s opinion about the engagement can hinge on a variety of factors. Also, before starting, have a plan for how to respond to negative feedback and how to share both positive and negative client input with internal firm stakeholders.
Once you’ve started receiving feedback, be sure to review it and discuss it with anyone to whom it applies. Take action to make improvements where necessary. Importantly, share victories — as other attorneys and staff will feel pride and a morale boost knowing they are a part of a team that creates happy, loyal clients. Be sure to ask permission to use positive feedback as testimonials on your law firm’s website, advertising, and social media, too!
To learn more about client feedback and the best ways to improve your visibility, contact the team at Scorpion!