How Am I Doing? The Importance of Client Satisfaction
Ed Koch, former mayor of New York, was famous for greeting his constituents with a wave and a shouted question, “How am I doing?” The turn on the usual greeting phrase captured one of the keys to his success: he gave the people what they wanted – someone who would listen to them. We all regularly receive surveys asking for our opinion on the service that we received or how well we liked whatever we may have recently purchased. Do you respond? Have you incorporated satisfaction surveys into your practice?
Let’s face it – the practice of law has changed. Legal consumers are more sophisticated purchasers of legal services. And the legal marketplace is more competitive. Why would you not want to measure how well you are doing? The amount of fees that you collect are not a true measure of how well you are doing and certainly not how well you are likely to do in the future.
As you know from previous blogs, one of your best sources of business are influencers, namely existing and former clients.
The fact that they pay you an agreed fee is not an accurate measure of their satisfaction with your services. What’s worse? If they are unhappy and you don’t know it or haven’t given them a chance to express it, they can be one of the biggest obstacles to new work. These influencers can easily and effectively channel work your way and can just as easily ensure that you don’t get it. After all, when asked by a friend or family member who they would recommend, if one of your existing or former clients recommends that they not use you, you are not likely to overcome that negative endorsement regardless of how slick your advertising or how many television ads you buy.
Not only are we inundated with requests for reviews, but we have also become accustomed to giving them. If you don’t ask your current and former clients for a review, they can easily give one online such as a Google review. And you have practically no control over what is posted there.
You don’t think these referrals and online reviews are important? A 2020 survey of legal consumers revealed that positive reviews or personal recommendations are the most important factors when considering the hireability of a lawyer.
So how do you go about determining client satisfaction?
At a minimum, ask your clients when you close a matter to give you a review. Ideally, you should ask at different stages of your engagement. You should use a simple 10-point Likert scale. The most important question is, “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend [your firm] to a friend, colleague, or family member?” 0 is not likely at all and 10 is most likely will recommend. Obviously, you can ask additional questions, such as by specifying the different types of related and unrelated legal services (that is a way of doing some advertising and also testing your cross-sell marketing), asking about particular facets of your services (communications, work product, result), and whether they are likely to use you again. Anything short of a 10 warrants a follow-up call. But you only have to ask that one question. Remember, the longer the survey the less likely it is that they will answer it.
Once you begin collecting responses to the penultimate question (the one set forth in full above), you can calculate your Net Promoter Score (NPS).
The NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of respondents who are “detractors” (those who score you less than a 7) from the percentage of respondents who are “promoters” (those who give you a 9 or 10). A positive NPS is generally considered good. How do you measure up? A 2018 analysis resulted in an NPS of 25 for the legal industry as a whole, putting it in good company with airlines, wireless carriers, and credit card companies. For context, companies are known for excellent customer service and stratospheric business growth, like Amazon, had NPS scores in the 60’s or higher.
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 2020 Legal Trends Report published by Clio, https://www.clio.com/resources/legal-trends/2020-report/.