I am a legal administrator in a 20 attorney firm in southwest Texas. My partners have been expressing concern about loss of several key clients and wants to know what we can do determine why this happened and what we can do to improve client service? I have been thinking about doing a client survey? What are your thoughts?
Much can be learned by talking to your clients. Structured telephone interviews and other forms of surveys conducted by a neutral third party can provide many surprises as well as answers. Client satisfaction surveys can be the best marketing investment that you can make. Our law firm clients have found their clients to be impressed that the firm cares about their opinions. It is good business to listen to your clients. Understanding what bugs people about your services and those of your competition can be the most valuable input to strategy development you can get your hands on. Find out what bugs your clients and you will learn to out-think and out-service your competitors.
Before you invest any time, money, or effort in developing an overall strategy for service improvement, you must survey your clients to understand what your clients want and expect from your firm. An initial survey helps you identify the starting point for your service improvement journey.
Planning The Survey
The type of survey that your firm chooses depends on your purpose for doing the survey. Are you looking for some insight into why you’ve lost clients? Are you interested in getting a general idea of how your clients feel about your firm? Following are some of the basic types of surveys that you may want to consider:
Random Client Survey or Census
These surveys are used to measure overall client satisfaction and highlight any widespread service problems and identify new business opportunities. A random survey involves selecting a percentage of your clients (sample), contacting them by phone, mail or in person (or a combination of all three), and asking them to evaluate the services they receive from your firm. A census involves surveying all clients rather than taking a sample.
Lost Client Survey
This type of survey is used if your firm wants to know why you have lost a particular client or group of clients. With this survey interviews are conducted (usually by telephone or in person) with clients that no longer do business with your firm. Let the client know that you are sorry that he or she is no longer doing business with your firm and that you are interested in learning from your mistakes. Understanding your client’s reason for leaving will help you make improvements for future clients. One of the greatest benefits for this type of survey is that you are often able to discover the specific reason a client left.
Key Client Survey
Rather than doing a random survey of your client base, you may want a more targeted and focused survey of a particular client group. For example, if 80 to 90 percent of your business comes from ten clients, you may want to create a survey that is specifically targeted to them. The advantage of a targeted key client survey is that it is limited in scope and precisely focused. Before you commit time and resources to a client survey identify your purpose and establish specific goals and objectives.
Develop a survey plan. Insure that a follow-up strategy is incorporated into the plan.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC