Posted by: johnocunningham | March 21, 2014

Clients Want to Speak; Some Firms Still Don’t Want to Listen

Too many law firms still are not seeking client feedback “in a systematic or sustained way,” despite the fact that formal client feedback programs are great ways to bolster client relationships and expand existing business.

That is one of the key conclusions of the Hildebrandt Consulting 2014 Client Advisory, according to Joyce Smiley’s March 2014 Verbatim blog post.

This observation about law firm behavior is particularly ironic because customer and client feedback programs are one of the cornerstone building blocks of almost all successful large-scale enterprises that law firms covet as clients.

When I was a General Counsel in both the retail world and the restaurant industry, our executives frequently reviewed formal and extensive surveys of customer attitudes about our businesses, as well as studies of customer buying behaviors with regard to our products and those of our competitors. Furthermore, our boards of directors were informed of those customer attitudes and behaviors at least annually, if not more often.

No public company that I know navigates the sea of competition without setting its compass according to the person who is really in charge of the business – the CUSTOMER.

Nonetheless, significant numbers of law firms who are courting sophisticated, public companies as potential clients still have no systematic way of listening to them.

Any business development activity planned without consideration of the thoughts and behaviors of the client or potential client is purely random, like monkeys throwing darts at a dartboard.

Fear of what the customer or client will say is a poor excuse for avoidance. Not knowing what the customer or client is really thinking is far more costly than the wounding of professional egos of those who serve the client.

Furthermore, contrary to lawyer fears, the vast majority of clients LIKE to be asked about service. I know because I have surveyed them repeatedly over the years, and I was a purchaser of legal services on an international scale. They want to help you improve your service and your business if they like you. If they don’t, then they are about to leave anyway, and they will never even say “good-bye.”

That is why leading-edge law firms and professional service firms of other stripes are instituting formal client surveys and client feedback programs, resulting in better service execution, as well as more productive sales strategies and tactics.

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