Face your fear of client feedback -- and reap the benefits

Nancy Byerly Jones, The Daily Record Newswire

I have taught many workshops over the years on how to get client feedback on a shoestring budget (e.g., telephone and email surveys, etc). In preparing for such a program, I ran across one of my old columns about the wisdom of asking your clients to prepare an attorney "report card."

I wrote it more than 10 years ago, but it is just as relevant (if not more so) in today's world. And worse, attorneys seem just as reluctant now as they were in the early days of the millennium to ask for their clients' brutally honest feedback.

Is this because:

- We're lazy?

- We don't think clients have the know-how to judge us properly?

- We're really scared of what negative things they may say about us?

- We really don't get how invaluable such a resource is to us?

Whatever our reason for not providing alternative ways for our clients to give us their ongoing and forthright feedback (hopefully sooner than later), we're missing out on an enormously valuable marketing and planning tool.

Who better than our clients to tell us how we're doing? That includes what we're doing right, what they appreciate most, and whatever else we do to earn their loyalty.

Client surveys - written, oral or otherwise - are not designed for the sole purpose of digging up all our faults per the client's eye; they also are about finding out what we're doing right to help ensure we recognize (and keep doing) those things that are most appreciated and valued by our clients.

So let's put on our thick skins and begin soliciting more feedback from our clients. Start with the very next one you email or talk to on the phone, if only by asking a single feedback-type question before hanging up or hitting the "send" button (taken together, these questions could comprise the nucleus of a more extensive client survey):

- How did you first contact us?

- How have I helped you most?

- Did you find the fees reasonable based on the services rendered?

- Were your calls returned promptly? Were you seen reasonably close to your scheduled appointment time?

- Is there anyone at our office who stands out as one you can always count on to have a positive and helpful attitude?

- Would you feel totally comfortable recommending our firm to one of your friends, relatives or business associates?

If your firm hasn't given client feedback an honest effort yet, I strongly recommend you make it a top priority over the next few months. You'll find out who the comedians are, get some bogus feedback, and absolutely gain some very useful bits of information from the best sources possible: those we serve.

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Nancy Byerly Jones is an attorney and certified family financial and Superior Court mediator who heads up NBJ Consulting & Conflict Resolution. She can be contacted at nbj@nbjconsulting.com.

Published: Tue, Jun 16, 2015

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