Blog/Podcast: Is Your Firm at Risk of Losing Clients or Attorneys? Measure Satisfaction with These Tactics

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Do you know how satisfied your clients are with your service? What about the attorneys at your firm—are they happy with their work environment? Your answers to these questions shouldn’t be educated guesses. For firm-wide success, you need to be able to measure and track both client and internal satisfaction.

Linda Hazelton, head of Hazelton Marketing & Management, has helped numerous firms use this data to fine-tune their service and operations. She joined the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast to offer her techniques for measuring client and attorney satisfaction.

Use Existing Data to Gauge Client Satisfaction

Losing clients to competitors is a risk that all law firms have to manage. No attorney wants to be blindsided by an unsatisfied client who decides to take their business elsewhere. Although interviews are the best way to get a read on how content clients are, you can also keep tabs on them using the data you already have.

One metric you can measure is how many open matters a client has, compared to how many open matters they normally have. If this number stays steady or grows with time, that’s a good sign the client is happy with your service and that you’re fulfilling all their needs. If, however, that number suddenly drops by a dozen percentage points, that should set off an alarm in your head. In this instance, it’s important to talk to the client and figure out why they’re not bringing as many matters to you as they have in the past.

Another early indicator of client risk is payment time. If a client usually pays 45 days after an invoice is sent, but now they’re paying 60 or 75 days later, it could signal that they’re about to jump ship. Late payments aren’t necessarily a sign that you’ve done something wrong, but they  can point to financial difficulties on the client’s end. That’s something you need to know, because it may affect whether they continue as a client, and if they do, whether you can expect them to pay fully and promptly.

Measure In-House Satisfaction, Too

It’s not just clients that firms need to keep happy. Attorneys and staff need to feel engaged and satisfied with their work environment as well. Otherwise, you risk losing them—and if you don’t have the talent, you can’t seek out new clients or serve your existing ones. Without the people to do the work and do it brilliantly, there’s no way the firm will thrive.

Whether you assess attorney and staff satisfaction with interviews, anonymous surveys or another method, one metric you should consider incorporating is the Net Promoter Score, or NPS. Usually, NPS is used to gauge client loyalty by asking the question, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this service to a friend?” Internally, we can ask the question, “How likely are you to recommend this firm to someone in the job market?”

People who answer with a score of 9 or 10 are called “promoters,” while people who answer with a score between 1 and 6 are called “detractors.” If you subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters, you’ll get your NPS. Any number above 0 is considered good, with 100 being a perfect score. With just one number, you can better assess how happy your attorneys and staff are in the firm.

Give Assignments with Work Style in Mind

Among all the firms Linda has worked with, one of the most common issues that impedes workplace happiness is a lack of communication and feedback, particularly between baby boomer managing partners and millennial associates. These two demographics have vastly different work styles, but in order for firms to function smoothly, each group needs to learn how to adapt to the other.

Too often, assignments are not given to associates clearly. Millennials especially need to have context for what they’re doing; they want to know how their piece of the pie makes the whole thing better. Just giving them the facts of the assignment won’t cut it. Instead, try adding a brief explanation of why you’re asking them to do something for the client, and tell them how their work fits into the bigger picture.

Miscommunication about deadlines can be a challenge, too. It’s easy to assign something and say, “This needs to be submitted to the court on June 20th,” but that’s not the real deadline for the associate. They need to submit their work earlier so it can first be reviewed, revised and approved by clients. It’s better to say something like, “I would like to have this by June 14, but I absolutely need to have it by June 16 so both the client and I can review it.” Again, it’s all about context for younger attorneys.

At the same time, millennials should also make sure they fully understand any assignment received. Linda frequently tells associates she works with that if they don’t get the specifics on when the assignment is due, how much time it should take, what it’s for and what the final product will look like, then it’s up to them to ask those all-important questions.

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