The cry of ‘customer service’ is starting to ring ever louder for law firms

This blog post was also featured as a column in the June 2015 issue of Legal Practice Management magazine. To read the issue in full, download LPM magazine.

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The cry of ‘customer service’ is starting to ring ever louder for law firms. As customer retention becomes more important and the concept of the sticky client takes hold, firms are looking to understand how they can measure the satisfaction levels of their customer base to validate they’re delivering a good service. The good news is that the road to customer satisfaction is one that has been travelled many times before by other service sectors, and many of their lessons can be passed on to the legal market.

Retention is becoming an important business metric for law firms. While private client work has for a long time lasted on personal relationships and corporate work on tenders, law firms are learning the concept of client retention on the grounds of one simple business fact: it’s cheaper to keep a client than acquire a new one. With costs being squeezed and marketing ROI ever under focus, it makes total sense that once a client is acquired you ought to keep them happy. It actually makes good commercial sense, too. Think about the cost of bidding or quoting for work and projects, or even the cost of drawing up and agreeing new contracts with prospects once you have acquired them.

Focusing on delivering an improved service to clients makes sense not least because it takes less effort than going on the acquisition trail, but a happy client has a greater propensity to re-spend with you, buying other services (the idea of cross-selling between departments is gathering pace as well) and, of course, they are less likely to look elsewhere for service.

But delivering a great, consistent, client experience has another effect too: improved client satisfaction reduces the resource required to handle client issues, especially senior resource that could otherwise be generating revenue. And those happy clients are likely to recommend or refer you to their associates, partners and peers – an organic (and inexpensive) way of acquiring new business.

But how do you measure how happy your clients are? Aside from the obvious financial metrics that can be used, how can you keep your customer service commitments true and ensure that you don’t drift from your committed goals? One way is to turn to a tool used the world over by service companies – the net promoter score. NPS is a great way to measure how referable you are. It can help identify clients who are dissatisfied and spot any trending issues – giving you advanced notice and allowing you time to do something about it. Used over time it provides trend analysis of your client base, and year-onyear (or six months to six months) it gives you a measure of client perception. The simplest of terms – “would you recommend us?” – is a powerful phrase toward understanding your brand’s strength and that client stickiness. By establishing a great customer experience, the recommendations will increase, growing the business further – that’s the real net gain.

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