The case is over, the file is closed and you are giving your client a farewell handshake.
Wait. Don’t say goodbye without asking one final question: “How did I do?”
More on that in a minute. First, let’s talk about beginnings and endings.
We all appreciate the importance of a good opening. Whether it is a book, a blind date or a foot race, we like a strong start. And nowhere is this more true than in the attorney-client relationship.
But endings are sometimes neglected. Too often we let cases fizzle out and fade off into the sunset. Sometimes we are too exhausted and burned out to care. Other times we are happy to see the client go.
Mining For Gold from Start to Finish
In weightlifting, it is said that the final few repetitions – when your mind is telling you to quit and your body is weeping in pain – can yield the greatest dividends. As in the weight room, so in the law office. Every case closing is a chance to grow new professional muscles.
“Just as there is much to learn from clients in the beginning of a matter, you can let closing a matter be a learning moment for you as well, writes attorney Joshua Lenon on the blawg Attorney at Work. “This is your opportunity to learn from your clients how satisfied or unsatisfied they are with your services.”
Unfortunately, many lawyers and firms are disengaging without debriefing. A Martindale-Hubbell survey found that 52 percent of law firms had no formal procedure for requesting feedback from their clients at the conclusion of a matter.
Most said client feedback was not a priority. Others said they lacked the manpower or resources to acquire it. And some simply gave the matter no thought.
Making the Case for Questioning Clients
Why bother with client feedback? Lenon cites three reasons:
- It lets clients know, in a tangible way, that you value them and their opinions.
- It helps identify problems that need to be fixed before they become endemic.
- It lets firms assess client satisfaction for additional selling opportunities.
It is also good manners. We all like it when a waiter approaches our table and asks if we are enjoying our meal. It makes us want to come back again. It inspires us to recommend the place to our friends.
According to BTI Consulting Group, law firms that listen to their clients and act on what they hear are 30 percent more profitable than firms who, in effect, tell departing clients to not let the door hit them on the way out.
Three Client Feedback Tips
- Request feedback from all clients – not just those whose cases were successful. You might learn more from clients whose cases did not turn out so well.
- Develop a survey form. Companies like Wufoo and SurveyMonkey let you design your own format. They will even take care of the data collection and analysis.
- Take the long view. You win some and you lose some. Do not get hung up on any specific case success or failure. Instead, accumulate a large amount of feedback over a long period of time. Then sit down and sift through the information for clues on how you can improve.
So when your next case ends, instead of telling the client “See you later,” ask “How did I do?”
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.
Source: Attorney at Work http://www.attorneyatwork.com/last-question-to-ask-a-client/