Feedback is a gift — embrace it

Simone Hughes
Make it Count
No matter your age, background, level of experience, and stature, feedback is scary. Turning that trepidation into triumph is up to you.

Obtaining and acting on feedback leads to financial rewards

BTI, a leader in legal professional services research, has studied the correlation between obtaining feedback and creating action plans that improve client service because of that feedback.
Their research demonstrates that obtaining and acting on feedback ultimately improves profits, retention, growth, fees, and the ability to charge premium rates.

Change is good

Not many people like change, and getting feedback may mean that something’s got to give. Face the demon (you), and start to ask clients how you’re servicing their accounts both from the provision of legal advice and services, and client service. It may seem counterintuitive, but your efforts will be rewarded. You will become closer to your client and your client will appreciate the effort. That appreciation translates into financial rewards.

Upping the feedback game

You can ask for feedback yourself, have someone else ask for you, send an electronic survey, or send a hard copy survey in the mail. While you should always keep on top of your clients and informally, from time to time, ask how things are going, only doing this type of feedback is inherently biased. People will not always tell you about issues they have with you — they just quietly reduce your work over time. Then they will blame it on something easy such as pricing, the economy, or their leader.

Key clients should always have formal client audits with another, more senior person doing the interviewing. Or they should be included in another type of survey where they feel they can answer in complete confidence if they need to. Feedback will be better and you will get a real handle on things to create even stronger bonds and future rewards.

Feedback from pitches

Debriefing with the client or prospective client after you win or lose a pitch is essential. The learning from this helps shape future pitches and can also give you insight on what your competitors did to win or lose to you.

It is also essential that you do not conduct your own debrief. In most cases, the clients are more sophisticated in their own feedback programs and they know that self-evaluation is biased.

Many business clients spend hundreds, thousands, and even millions of dollars on statistically significant research and won’t think too much of your attempts to conduct your own debriefing. They are carving out time in their day, and putting your firm’s best foot forward will actually lead to consideration of future work even if you didn’t win.

Listen to the feedback – choose your own path

Listening and not interrupting or managing feedback is another tough thing. I knew one law firm leader who told their client in an interview that s/he knew they were satisfied with the law firm’s services, even before the client voiced their opinion. Of course, after that introduction, the client clammed up.  

Feedback ruffles our composures and egos. Remember that we don’t have to do or change everything that people tell us to, but we still have to listen and then make our own decisions from the client-suggested improvements. Listen and choose the path forward in an open, transparent, and collaborative manner.  

Embrace feedback and let it embrace you.

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