Client Feedback Best Practices: Which Clients to Interview?
In last week’s blog post, Tara wrote about the outcomes of client feedback interviews and even shared recent recommendations we have made to our law firm clients after talking to their clients. We make those recommendations based on our experiences interviewing thousands of clients on behalf of firms. The themes in those actions map directly to what clients most often talk about: adding value to the relationship, increasing loyalty and even creating your external referral network.
We’ve also written many articles, book chapters and blog posts on how to launch a client feedback program, best practices in client feedback and differences between law firm leadership (thank you) visits and true feedback.
But as we move deeper into Fall, the challenge we spend much of our time helping firms overcome is not how to launch a client feedback program (although we still get that question) but more often where to start. What firms are really asking is: “Which clients should we interview?”
While the answer is unique to every firm we work with, there are some truths that any firm should be thinking about when embarking on a client feedback initiative:
- Leadership participation: Leaders in the firm need to lead by example and include their clients.
- Pilot groups: Some firms decide to start small and focus on specific practice, industry or other groups at the firm. It’s okay to smart small, but the purpose of a pilot program is to demonstrate outcomes. So, share and even market the outcomes.
- Top clients: This is the most obvious starting point, but we find that many firms already pay significant attention to their top clients and know the people and businesses well.
- The next tier: When firms look at revenue, those that aren’t in the top tier of revenue but close often have great opportunities. Less is known, they use fewer practices at the firm and there are not as many direct relationships.
- New clients and shrinking clients: Clients that are new to the firm but have a fast-growing relationship are perfect candidates. If it’s not too late and you don’t know why a client is reducing the relationship, find out why by getting feedback.
- People changes at the client: Whether it is a new GC, deputy GC, head of legal operations or business leader, that’s the perfect time to go visit. I was just talking with a relationship attorney who hasn’t met the “new” GC—that “new” GC has been at the client for two years.
- People changes at the firm: Succession planning is an obvious time to visit a client. But also get feedback when new laterals come on board, new senior associates join the team or any other new people enter the relationship. It impacts the client, and you should get feedback.
We also utilize a bespoke client feedback survey tool to gather broader subjective feedback from a wide range of clients that sometimes we use to identify which clients need attention, including independent feedback.
More than a dozen years ago when we started Wicker Park Group, we were dedicated to helping law firms listen to the Voice of the Client. Few firms were fully invested in client listening programs, and there are still too few firms making important decisions based on feedback. But the tide has shifted. Most importantly, clients clamor to provide feedback. You just have to start somewhere.