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Understanding Your Clients’ Changing Needs in a Post-Pandemic Legal Market

If it was challenging to get facetime with clients pre-pandemic, that challenge has only multiplied in the post-pandemic world.

As law firms revisit their strategic growth plans to address new market realities, many are looking to client feedback initiatives to gather data from clients to inform strategy development. Moreover, as firms look for creative ways to reconnect with clients, client interviews and surveys have become more important than ever for ensuring client satisfaction, loyalty and profitability.

Since the spring of 2020, opportunities for in-person meetings with clients have largely gone away. In-person conferences, events and seminars were replaced by virtual or hybrid events and Zoom meetings. While the shift to virtual has worked well for service delivery, the opportunity for relationship building and meaningful conversations about service levels and ongoing needs has become much more difficult.

Client feedback programs are not new to law firms. According to legal industry data, approximately two-thirds of large law firms (250+ lawyers), have some formal client interview program in place. Many have client service officers or directors whose full-time role is to meet with clients to ensure satisfaction and loyalty and identify opportunities to deepen the client relationship. In short, big firms “get it.”

Mid-sized firms have been slower to incorporate client feedback programs into strategic planning efforts and their marketing toolbox, often succumbing to pushback from vocal partners opposed to the firm talking to “their clients.” High-growth firms with collaborative cultures that do engage in client feedback initiatives have found clients to be enthusiastic participants and gleaned valuable information about service quality issues as well as opportunities for cross-selling other firm practices. Because fewer mid-sized firms have made client experience a priority, there is still a significant opportunity to differentiate a mid-sized firm from its competitors based on their commitment to client satisfaction.

Firms use client interviews and surveys to:

  • Make strategic decisions based on data. It is common for firms to conduct secondary market research and solicit input from the firm’s lawyers in the course of developing a plan. Leading firms, however, use data-backed decision-making and rely on primary research from their clients to ensure their strategic goals are based on client needs and expectations.
  • Identify work quality and service issues. Without client feedback, firms have few ways of identifying work quality or service issues in particular departments, practice groups or teams. Rather than waiting until a client just stops sending work, client interviews/surveys bring problems to light so firms can address them proactively.
  • Drive client loyalty and profitability. Client satisfaction drives loyalty, and loyalty drives profitability. Over the last two decades, it has been well-documented through the work of Frederick Reicheld (father of the Net Promoter Score) and others that firms that focus on client satisfaction have higher growth rates and profitability than their competitors.
  • Identify referral opportunities. Existing clients are typically your best source for referrals and client feedback tools provide a great reminder that referrals are appreciated.
  • Identify opportunities for cross-selling. Firms routinely struggle to identify concrete opportunities for cross-selling. When done correctly, client interviews and surveys provide a chance to highlight service capabilities of which clients might not otherwise be aware.

As your firm rethinks its strategic growth opportunities and looks for creative ways to engage with clients, consider embarking on or doubling down on client feedback initiatives. Client interviews and surveys are cost-effective and efficient way to develop meaningful data, identity areas for service improvements, deepen client relationships, improve profitability and identify opportunities for cross-selling.

The Law Firm Advisory Team at Withum is happy to work with you to develop and implement your client feedback initiative as part of your strategic planning process or as an ongoing stand-alone strategy to maintain and increase work from existing clients.

Marci Taylor is a principal in Withum’s Law Firm Advisory team. She provides strategy, management and marketing consulting services to law firms throughout the country and has interviewed and surveyed thousands of law firm clients to inform strategy and drive client loyalty and profitability.

Contact our Withum’s Law Firm Advisory Team to help address your questions.

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