I am managing partner with a 12 attorney general practice firm in St. Louis. As part of our marketing program we recently completed an informal client survey and were surprised at some of the feedback. The feedback was less positive than expected. Our clients advised us that our services took longer than expected and fees were also higher than expected. We work hard for our clients and I don't see how we can improve turnaround or reduce legal fees. I would appreciate any thoughts that you have.
Based upon client satisfaction surveys (telephone interviews) that we do for law firms we find that one of the biggest problems is that the attorneys are doing a poor job of managing client expectations. Your clients get frustrated when you promise one thing (timeline or fees) and the result is very different – especially when the work takes longer than promised or the fees are higher. Even though you don't structure it as a promise your clients take it that way. The key is to under promise and over deliver. I suspect that upon the initial client meeting you are under estimating the timeline and low balling the fee range. Reduce the promise – increase the - timeline and fee range and then shoot to deliver under that range. This will do wonders for improving the client relationship.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC