The recent Legal Marketing Association annual conference really spelled out how law firm marketing has shifted over the past few years. When I started writing on legal issues 13 years ago, most firms didn’t have a marketing person, let alone a department. That has changed and most dramatically over the last year to 18 months, those departments have become the focus of business development for the firms. Publisher Karen Lorimer attended the LMA and wrote a piece for our canadianlawyermag.com on the attitudinal transition. Well worth the read.
In our June 2009 cover story, we looked at “Big BD” and the increasing importance of business development in law firms’ growth strategies as well as the role social media plays. What has become really clear is that a tremendous focus in the business development sphere should be on current clients — both keeping them and garnering more work from them. And thus we come to this month’s cover story about one of my favourite issues: client satisfaction surveys. And perhaps my biggest question about them: Why don’t more firms do them? Such surveys can be done in many different ways with many different outcomes, but the reality is that most firms aren’t doing them. The results of our last in-house counsel survey showed the majority of in-house lawyers had not had any type of followup from their legal service providers on how they were doing.
Well those days should be over for every firm of every size. Do not be afraid to ask for and act on feedback from clients. And, most importantly, lawyers should not think they are always fully aware of how a relationship with a client is going. As Tim Nightingale, the founding director of Nisus Consulting Ltd. in the U.K., noted in a LinkedIn discussion on the topic: “The trick is not to think you know your clients, but to know what your clients think.” That means asking.
Even the smallest firm can ask its clients to fill out a quick online survey. It will show you care about what clients think and are working to make the firm more responsive to their needs. MacIsaac & Co., a British Columbia personal injury firm, has one online that popped up during our research. Any search for “client satisfaction survey law” will yield numerous examples. More comprehensive phone or one-on-one interviews are also invaluable, done either by lawyers from within a firm or a third party. Here’s a useful article on conducting client interviews: toplawyercoach.com/2010/03/client-interviewing.
While I’m not vouching for any of them, these online examples are first steps on the way to creating better lines of communication. Nothing wrong with that.