The True Magic of Client Feedback Happens After the Interview
Lawyers and firms considering a client feedback program typically want to hear about the type of feedback we solicit from clients. But they are often more interested in the activities or results that come directly from client interviews. We believe some of the best value we provide to our law firm clients is taking the voice of the client and creating action items to address those themes, comments, challenges and suggestions.
It’s safe to say that 90% of the feedback we receive is very positive, and much of it is confirmation of what to continue doing, but sometimes there are small issues or suggestions for improvement that, when addressed, can have a dramatic impact on the relationship. The themes of client feedback are fairly consistent among clients, and topics often include:
- State of the business and strategic goals/priorities going forward
- Areas of focus or need
- Competitive intelligence
- Experience with the team and how the team aligns with the culture and fit of the company
- Communication and responsiveness
- Cost and budgeting expectations
- Ways to add value that don’t show up on the legal bill
- Transparency and suggestions on how to improve the partnership
- Specific ideas on how to make the client’s life easier
- Helping the client succeed internally
These topics uncover important information, but what you do with the feedback causes the magic to happen. We work hard to make the follow-up strategies clear, specific and actionable. If you (or anyone you work with) has lingering doubts about the value of client feedback, read the following specific actions from previous WPG client interviews:
- Personally thank each participant for their time, feedback and candor and tell them how much you appreciate and value the relationship.
- Note the client’s view of the firm as superior to others for: client service, communication and knowledge of business and industry. Populate this feedback across the client team, and develop specific activities and tools to showcase the firm’s client-service focus.
- Be aware of the client’s concerns around the impact of going over budget to specific business people and business units. Implement discussed protocol for budget variances.
- Proactive communication is highly valued; note comments marked in report regarding what to bring to the client’s attention, when and how.
- Mine the firm experience database to find fee arrangements that would be practical and applicable to those areas where the client notes a need for non-billable fees.
- Institute protocol for onboarding and introducing additional attorneys into the relationship mapped to existing and known future client needs and pressure points to demonstrate the broad depth of the firm’s talent and capabilities. Pay particular attention to those areas identified as potentially deficient by the client.
- Develop and provide checklists in the key areas noted to make the client’s life easier and shift the mindset from reactive to proactive.
- For client-identified must-attend industry events, attend the events and use the previously introduced protocol for event preparation, attendee analysis and post-event follow up.
- Bring the firm’s finance professionals to the budget strategy meeting with the client to develop a more sophisticated budgeting and estimate process, including the development of reporting and alert criteria.
- Assign a specific team member to review and audit compliance with the client’s outside counsel guidelines.