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Client Service in the Legal Ecosystem: It’s About What You Do, Not What You Say

I’ve worked with about 100 firms in the last 12 years, primarily around client feedback, and there is one most important element to the entire feedback process: what the firm does to act on the feedback. In order to effectively act on the feedback, firms must:

  1. Engage the client
  2. Involve other parties as needed
  3. Clearly communicate the plan to act with everyone involved

Engage the Client

Before implementing the plan, the key lawyers in the relationship must engage the client in what they expect to do with the feedback. This is action, not just the promises. Engaging the client in a debrief meeting post-feedback gives them a chance to be part of the process in prioritizing what the firm should do, sharing when they want the firm to do it and collaborating with the client on the outcome.

Involve Other People

Often, there is a long list of other parties that must be involved in the process internally at the firm, externally at the client and even other companies that play a role in the legal ecosystem such as vendors and alternative legal service providers. When creating follow-up actions from feedback:

  • Determine who owns the action internally
  • Inventory the players involved (IT, finance, professional development, marketing, business development, outside service providers) and who from the client is the person most invested in the initiative’s success
  • Align incentives

Communicate the Plan and Outcomes

Next, ensure everyone understands the strategy, the goals, the deadlines and the broader applications of the initiative. And, when appropriate, communicate the successes with other clients:

  • Create a roadmap with milestones and deadlines
  • Share the successes with others in the firm
  • Share the ideas and successes with other clients in the firm
  • Catalogue what is new and different while creating professional development, business development and client service training programs based on the client’s needs
  • Follow up on the initiative’s success, particularly when new people are involved

Having a systemic plan to turn feedback into client service will fundamentally change how the firm acts on a daily basis. The countless individuals who are critical to the most successful client relationships and who impact the client experience will know the answer to the most important question: Why are we doing this? The client’s success becomes the firm’s success.

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