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Client Feedback, Service & Teams
3 minute read | 8 months ago

The State of Client Feedback in 2023

Photo of Laura Meherg By: Laura Meherg

It’s budget-planning season for most law firms, and we’ve been talking to WPG clients about how they can increase their client feedback reach as well as fielding questions from firms who are exploring how to get a client feedback program funded and started in 2024. With the world, economy and government in turmoil, there is nothing more critical than understanding the priorities, pressures, expectations and preferences of clients. It’s time to turn up the volume and frequency of your client listening!

Our clients always want to know how their programs stack up against their competitors, and firms without client feedback programs want help making the case for client feedback. So this summer, we partnered with ALM Intelligence to better understand the state of client feedback in AmLaw 200 and NLJ 500 law firms in the U.S. Eighty one law firms responded to the survey, providing some great insights into what firms are doing and not doing, the powerful impact of feedback to the firms that do regularly seek client insights and a better understanding of the persistent obstacles that remain.

In 2023, 56% of firms report having a consistent, structured and organized process to obtain formal client feedback. While that’s an improvement from 2011’s 48%, it’s still a bit baffling to those of us who see the tremendous value and benefit of client feedback every single day. Of note:

  • 95% of respondents with formal programs believe that the feedback efforts uncover valuable information about client needs and preferences
  • 90% of respondents believe that feedback will be even more important in the future

The most often indicated reasons for not obtaining feedback are partner resistance to participation (41%), not a priority of firm leadership (38%) and a lack of staff or resources (35%). 72% of firms without feedback programs plan to start seeking feedback within the next year and a half, demonstrating a slow-growing increase since 2011, when 56% of firms planned to increase their client feedback efforts. Some other highlights from the survey include:

Client Feedback Process

  • 91% of respondent firms assign the responsibility for managing their firm’s feedback methods to marketing or business development professional staff
  • 63% of respondent firms have been collecting feedback for over 5 years
  • Two-thirds of respondent firms invest less than 5% of their marketing/business development budget and resources into client feedback

Client Selection

  • Respondent firms most often choose top firm clients (89%) and clients with formal client teams (75%) to provide feedback
  • The most frequently targeted client position titles are GCs/CLOs (49%) and Assistant, Deputy or Senior GCs (41%)   
  • The two most indicated categories for segmenting clients for selection are Revenue (37%) and Client Teams (30%)
    • Notable areas of opportunity for improvement include the addition of resources and gathering feedback more frequently

Impact/Goals of Gathering Feedback

  • 89% of respondents say that feedback is important at their firms
  • 62% say that client feedback has a long-term impact on actionable steps taken based on the feedback obtained
    • The two most often indicated actionable steps include taking advantage of new areas of opportunity with existing clients (62%) and sharing best practices learned from the feedback (61%)
  • The top three goals of gathering feedback are increasing client loyalty, improving client service and measuring client satisfaction

Specific suggestions for improving the feedback process at respondent firms include increasing the amount of feedback collected, better engagement from partners/leaders and adding additional resources. We are seeing WPG clients add new client feedback methodologies to broaden their reach, expand efforts beyond key accounts and top revenue clients and strategically share client feedback more broadly across their firms.

If you are not talking—and more importantly listening—to your clients, it’s a safe bet other law firms are.