When an employee departs, a job exit interview is a good way to find out what you are doing right and wrong as a boss.
Similarly, when you bid farewell to a client, an exit interview can reveal areas where your customer service is strong – as well as weak spots that need shoring up.
Less than three out of 10 clients say they would recommend their lawyer to a friend. That means 70 percent are unhappy when their case is over.
The good news is that you can flip that figure with ease. A smart place to start is at the end – by sitting down with clients at the conclusion of their cases to get honest feedback on your performance.
Make the session comfortable and nonthreatening. Give the clients time to answer without arguing or interrupting . Remember – the goal is to acquire helpful information, not prove your point.
10 Important Questions to Ask Departing Clients
Business blogger Alvah Parker suggests the following debriefing questions:
- What was the greatest benefit you got from my service? The answer might surprise you. You might assume clients are interested only in results, when in fact what they might value even more is communication and empathy.
- What would you like to see more of in the future? Your goal is to have clients keep coming back for more.
- How could I improve my service? Clients may have great ideas that you have not even thought of.
- Is there anything you would like to see me stop doing? You need what actions, if any, are annoying, non-productive or a waste of time.
- Is there anything you didn’t get from my office that you were looking for? Perhaps the client needs other services. Now is the time to find out.
- Has my staff treated you with care, attention, and courteousness? Some clients complain openly. Others fume in silence – and never return.
- Is there an issue that I have not spent enough time on? Without asking, you may not discover new ways to help your client – and bring in additional fees.
- Am I doing what you want me to do? Don’t assume you know what the client wants. Ask.
- Where have we been less than proactive in addressing your concerns? Clients like attorneys who move the ball forward instead of always playing defense.
- Is our billing clear? Talking dollars makes sense. Don’t be afraid to ask clients if they felt they got value for their money.
Clients Don’t Always Vote With Their Feet
Some clients let you know they are unhappy by firing you and going to another attorney. Most, though, do not.
“Low satisfaction rarely translates into instant firing,” writes BTI Consulting. “Instead we see a slow, steady process of clients trying to improve relationships, inviting new law firms in for work and bringing work in-house. Ultimately, stagnant client service will drive satisfaction levels to the point where a primary firm becomes secondary as the work slowly tails off.”
Keep your service fresh and effective by choosing clients wisely at the beginning … and by picking their brains at the end.
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 919-619-2441.
- BTI Consulting http://www.btibuzz.com/buzz/2013/6/25/after-5-year-upward-march-client-satisfaction-plummets.html
- Expert Law http://www.expertlaw.com/library/practice_management/customer-service.html