For the past five weeks I have been discussing the characteristics of successful law firms and introduced the following basic building blocks that successful firms typically have in place:
Partner relations, leadership, management, partner compensation, and planning blocks have been discussed.
The sixth basic building block is client service. Successful firms deliver exceptional client service. They don't just meet client expectations – they exceed them.
This is the decade of the client. Clients are demanding and getting – both world-class service – and top quality products. Many law firms have spent too much energy on developing new clients and not enough retaining old ones. For many law firms, obtaining new work from existing clients is the most productive type of marketing.
Delivering great client service is extremely important in today’s legal marketplace. More and more lawyers and law firms are competing for fewer clients while client loyalty continues to drop. It is no longer sufficient to simply be competent or an expert in today’s competitive legal environment – law firms must distinguish themselves by the service they provide. Lawyers and law firms must strive for 100% client satisfaction. Service is how many clients can tell one lawyer or law firm from another.
Clearly, from what law firms' clients are telling us, lawyers and law firms need to improve client service by integrating a client-first service focus into everyday practice and getting feedback on performance.
Most clients can’t evaluate the quality of your legal work. What they can and do is evaluate the experience of working with you.
Lets face it – customer and client expectations have changed across all industries. It is a buyers market and they know it. Today clients want it all – better, faster and cheaper. If you can’t provide it they will go somewhere else.
The key is to management client expectations – underpromise and overdeliver.
I will address each of the other building blocks in upcoming postings.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC