“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates
I believe the single and greatest way to grow a law firm is to provide exemplary customer service.
Being sensitive to, and constantly taking the pulse of, what clients think about the quality of a firm’s customer service is low hanging fruit that when tended to, can result in massive, compounding gains for a law firm. Referrals from clients, 5-star reviews, and a happy work environment are some of the many benefits that result when providing and constantly improving upon the level of client service.
But all too often law firms neglect this vital concept. They take clients for granted and can be tone-deaf on what practices frustrate clients during their journey with a law firm. When this happens, a nefarious metastasizing unfolds: Clients get upset, the workplace becomes stressed and unhappy, and growth stalls.
As lawyers, we are first and foremost in the customer service business and everything at a law firm must revolve around that. Everything else is secondary. That is a critically important mindset to adapt because it informs the strategies that are designed to put the clients’ needs first.
At my firm, we believe in checkpoints during each client journey where we mine clients for information on how we are doing. Here are two easy and free ways to ensure clients receive great service and become raving fans of the firm.
Send clients surveys. Our firm sends out two automated email surveys to each client during the duration of each case. I am always hunting for problems and holes in our service and surveys reveal areas where we need to improve. Surveys also reveal practices our clients enjoy about their experience with us so we make sure to double down on those findings.
This requires no effort or time on the part of the staff because the CRM (customer relationship management) does all the work. Only a small number of clients are likely to respond but the ones who do provide valuable information. If a firm is open to hearing about weaknesses, it can continuously optimize and improve.
Stay in contact. In addition to the surveys, our firm also sends automated emails to clients every two months asking if they have recently been contacted by our office. This ensures that client contact remains regular and consistent throughout the case. This is extremely comforting to the clients and reduces the need for them to call into the office.
The emails produce multiple benefits. My team members know the emails are being sent so they are incentivized to keep up regular contact with clients and update them on case status. Additionally, the emails show clients the firm cares about and takes seriously the promise to keep them informed. The surveys and emails are proven quality control tactics that work, and they are automated .
At the end of each case, when clients come to the office to pick up their settlement check (at this stage we give them a merchandise bag with free items), I sit with them and ask for suggestions on improving the delivery of our services. I use a checklist so I don’t forget anything.
This shows clients we value their feedback. If the client is happy, I ask what they liked about their experience, and remind them that we are built on client referrals and are available to help the client’s family and friends in the future. If the client is unhappy, I find out exactly why and use it as an opportunity to improve the firm’s services.
The ongoing process of fine tuning and improving the client experience requires continual focus and intention. You’ll never know what clients like and dislike about your firm unless you ask them, and ask them frequently.
If you have other ideas on how the client experience can be gauged and improved, please share them with me by emailing me at [email protected]
Christopher Earley is a Boston personal injury attorney and author who focuses his practice on the representation of the seriously injured and their families. His firm website is www.ChrisEarley.com.