During a recent CLE program entitled “Reputation Management and Online Reviews” we asked the attendees if they sent satisfaction surveys to their clients, during or at the close of representation. No one raised their hand.
Are Your Clients Happy?
Do you know if your clients are happy with your work? Have you asked? When clients feel they have no platform to voice their dissatisfaction with a lawyer, they turn to the internet to air their complaints. This can have disastrous effects for lawyers, who have fairly limited recourse when a former client leaves a negative review on AVVO or Yelp. The solution? Give the client a means of providing feedback throughout the course of your involvement with them. By getting ahead of dissatisfaction, you can proactively protect your online reputation.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best times to ask a client for feedback is when you send them their monthly bill. By making your invoice more user-friendly and combining it with a customer satisfaction survey, you not only increase the likelihood that the client will actually take the time to fill it out, but you can streamline the processes to increase billing transparency. Another opportunity to collect feedback about the representation is at the close of the matter.
Touch Point #1 – The Bill
Clients value specificity in billing, so be as clear as possible when invoicing. Tell them what work was done, what team members performed the work, and how much it cost. Allow your clients to feel like they’re a part of a team with a more personalized experience, and satisfaction rates will grow. Especially as the legal world begins to meld with the internet, clients crave personalization and personality in a professional landscape where they might not even enter your firm’s office once throughout the course of representation. E-introducing them to the attorneys and paralegals working for them is a great way to bridge that gap!
Matt Homann, Founder & CEO of Filament, compiled a great example of streamlined bill/survey mailing you could send to clients. Note how user-friendly his example appears – no legalese, no confusion. It’s simple but attractive, and provides names and faces to the legal team working for the client. The feedback section is short but perfectly adequate for voicing complaints or compliments.
You can mail or email a form like Homann’s, or you can use an online platform like Google Forms or Survey Monkey to gather feedback. These are great tools for creating a survey because they allow you to track responses and get an overall sense of your “rating” as a firm – they aren’t individual emails or forms that someone in the firm has to spend time aggregating into workable data. Remember to keep your survey simple. Consider the categories and a scale on which you want clients to rate you and make it straightforward.
I’m a big fan of how Homann’s feedback form begins by asking the client to rate the firm based on several concrete commitments outlined by the firm. Not only does this keep feedback quantifiable, but you are able to set the standards upon which your work is weighed. He still gives the client an opportunity to freely voice their feedback below the report card, but it’s limited to just one question and three blank lines. This helps ensure that the feedback you receive will be helpful to you, and limits the likelihood of off-the-wall, rambling responses. You want feedback, but you specifically want useful feedback. By providing the client with some structure, you better your odds of receiving it.
Touch Point #2 – The Closing Letter
Along with the closing letter, take the opportunity to once again ask the client for feedback (see a sample). This can also include information such as “would you refer our firm to a friend?” and other information useful for client development such as “where did you hear about us?”. The feedback information can help the firm ensure improvements in customer service in the future. While it is difficult to objectively compare one law firm to another, customer service can be a distinguishing factor. Once the survey is complete be sure to ask happy clients to review the firm on AVVO, Yelp or GoogleMyBusiness.
Always remember, simplicity is key! It might seem like adding another step to an already busy workday, but by giving clients a platform to feel they’re complaints are heard, you can prevent bad reviews from popping up online. Take charge of your online reputation by stopping bad reviews before they start!