Client happiness governs success in all businesses, and law firms are no exception, writes Meda Royall.
The legal profession is not free of the rules that govern enterprise and, like other professions, is bound by a set of scrutinising tendencies set forth by the clients and consumers that fuel the world of business. Client satisfaction is one of these governing phenomena, and placing an emphasis on upholding the integrity of client satisfaction is an initiative that needs to be held in the highest of regards within any business.
Maintaining a healthy and strong client-business relationship is a crucial aspect to any provider of legal services initiative repertoire, and neglecting to realise this undeniable fact is a slip-up that simply cannot be afforded to occur. Unhappy clients can mean an untimely demise is imminent for practitioners who allow this sort of thing to occur, which places a stern burden of client satisfaction on the profession as a whole. Leaving this kind of occurrence untethered and unwavered is an all too common practice in the legal field, and is a leading cause in the failing of firms and the development of rising resentment among the consumers of legal services.
The incentives for focusing on client satisfaction
A multitude of comprehensive and up-to-date studies and research compilations prove that emphasising client happiness translates into tangible results for legal practitioners of all kinds. One such American study conducted by BTI Consulting Group in Boston indicates that clients who deem a firm to be "superior" to other firms, do so with regards to a few unique attributes that these noteworthy entities possess. These can include anything from a streamlined client experience, to a favourable cost according to the qualities imparted by the service over any other competitor’s comparable services.
These superior labelled firms tend to show greater success and greater productivity within their operations, and typically possess a set of defining attributes that may collectively owe to this notable success. These resulting attributes include things like 33 per cent higher profits than non "superior" competitors, and almost 36 per cent higher overall growth rates than their constituencies. These firms also usually obtain double the amount of fees from single clients, which coupled with the 33.1 per cent higher client retention rates, owes to their impressive success.
How do you know you’re on the right track?
There are many methods that exist for firms and solo practitioners to gauge the overall satisfaction of their clients, and many of the most successful service providers use multiple methods in conjunction for a complete analysis of satisfaction levels.
One of the most popular ways of deciphering the happiness of clientele, is the practice of organising in-person interviews. These interviews give a platform for the client to shed light on their experience, and gives the professional the chance to understand any gripes that the client may have. The downside to this practice revolves around the imperfection of an in-person review, where the client may be unwilling to truly express their feelings. Firms and lawyers may utilise this method specifically for complex relationships that can benefit the most from face-to-face interactions.
Other methods that may be used include things like telephone interviews and online surveys, where the hindrances of honesty don’t apply in the same way they do for in-person interviews. This notion is especially true for online surveys, which has an added bonus of convenience added to the mix – making it somewhat of a go-to tool for client satisfaction analyses.
The stark realities of client dissatisfaction makes upholding a positive client experience extremely imperative for any practitioner, and this notion is even more applicable in the current volatile environment that surrounds the legal profession. It’s now more than ever the time for firms and individual lawyers alike to focus their attention on client happiness – for without such a focus, the repercussions may prove fatal.
Meda Royall is the founder and CEO of Your Law Firm.