As the client and service provider relationship evolves, the new normal for lawyers is that clients want more and they want it for less. So how do you successfully maintain and grow relationships with your clients without continually discounting rates?
The most effective way to learn more about your clients and about the relationship you have with them is simply to ask them. However, the development and implementation of a succinct client interview process is not something to be taken lightly.
There are many objectives behind interviewing clients. By asking clients for feedback we are telling the client that we care about the relationship and that we view them as being important. Client interviews provide feedback that help measure the health of the relationship, help to manage the relationship and provide lawyers on the team with objective third party information about their work. Additionally, client interviews enable us to discover opportunities or gaps in our work in order to enhance our client development. It is a true opportunity to step back and assess the breadth of the relationship as a whole.
There are a number of critical components to client feedback that help in understanding the past, present and future of the relationship:
- quantitative insights: benchmark against clients needs and competition
- qualitative insights: target emerging needs of the client
- firm wide metrics: uncover trends and overlooked strengths
- clear and obvious value: communicate progress and share results
- actionable recommendations: practical, proven, tailored
- ongoing communication
When performing client interviews you should include your understanding of the client’s business, the client’s view of your people, the management of the engagement, your communications with the client and the client’s overall satisfaction with your work.
During the interviews, the firm is likely to hear things from their clients that they don’t want to hear. Usually the firms already know about the problem(s) and have been ignoring them. However, if you take this information and modify behaviors, your clients are likely to not only stay with the firm but send more work your way.