Client Interviews create new work opportunities, referrals and positive impressions.
Client Interviews are the competitive advantage hallmark of profitable law firms and legal service providers.
Having conducted hundreds of Client Interviews, I can attest that law firms and legal service providers with formal client interview programs stand head-and-shoulders above those that don’t.
More and better quality work plus qualified referrals are the usual rewards along with goodwill and positive perceptions that enhance the reputations of individual lawyers as well as bolster the firm or provider’s brand.
Three things happen every time I conduct client service interviews on behalf of a law firm or legal service provider:
- Their trust in the law firm or legal service provider deepens exponentially.
- The number of files, new work opportunities, and referrals increases dramatically immediately afterward.
- Clients tell me they appreciate speaking candidly with an objective third party.
Why Client Interviews Yield Rewards Every Time
More than 80 percent of clients in Canada and the United States are not asked to provide feedback to their law firms and legal service providers. The small percentage of firms and providers that do ask for client input benefit enormously.
An interview framed as a two-way conversation enables clients to speak their minds, and be listened to and heard without prejudice. An interview also enables unbiased exploration and probing for clarification to ensure that ambiguity is eliminated and messages are clear.
Client interviews enable law firms and legal services providers to learn exactly what clients are thinking and planning, and respond fast. And because a personal interview is a physical demonstration of client care, firms and providers are often rewarded with higher volumes of current work, new files, deeper loyalty, and referrals.
Voice of the Client
Client input is a critical component to the success of client teams, reputation management, launching a new service offering, aligning industry teams and practice groups, expanding or opening a new location, succession plans, and positioning a law firm or legal service company for long-term growth in critical target markets.
A two-way conversation matters most. A personal dialogue enables a client to express opinions, thoughts, suggestions and ideas. Their revelations are a goldmine of helpful information that deepens the client-lawyer/firm/provider relationship. This is because a thoughtful conversation enables exploration of a client’s insights in a deeper and more meaningful way than any one-way electronic survey will ever reveal.
Key Objectives and Approach for Client Interviews
Key objectives usually include:
- Clarification a client’s current and future business challenges.
- Gauging depth and breadth of the relationship and opportunities for expansion.
- Revelation of involvement in current files and identify new work opportunities.
- Identification of decision factors for engagement and retention of your counsel as well as your competitors.
- Confirmation of a firm/provider’s market position and key advantages as well as testing of aspirational goals, markets and services.
My approach for every client interview engagement is tightly-tailored because each situation is unique.
At the outset, we determine scope, timeline, methodology, reporting, and desired results. Other steps include the selection of clients to be interviewed*, collection of background data, communication guides for internal use as well as for clients to help facilitate the process, pre-interviews within the firm, client interviews, results reporting, and recommendations with actions for client follow-up and next steps.
*For firms that are new to the client interview process, I always suggest starting with a small pilot project. This can be a small set of clients from a firm, practice group, industry team, office location, etc.
Client Interviews Drive Growth
There is enormous value in asking open questions, such as “How are we doing?” and “How else can we help you?” In my experience, responses are almost always much better than expected and provide terrific insights, while any requests for adjustments are usually minor and simple to remedy. These easy fixes are appreciated by clients who often reward the firm or provider with new work or referrals.
Clients are flattered when, with their approval, complimentary quotes appear as a testimonial on the firm or provider’s marketing collateral, such as the website.
Lawyers or service providers are always involved in the interview process. For an interview itself, clients tell me they appreciate the comfort of speaking to a neutral third-party who is conversant in the legal business because it enables them to speak with openness and honesty.
This is when my legal experience plus 14 years of broadcast journalism helps to cement law firm and service provider trust while putting their clients at ease. As a former national business news anchor, news producer, and executive producer, I am trained to ask the right questions at the right moments, listen carefully for nuance, probe respectfully when necessary, and be comfortable with silence that invites interviewees to respond fully in their own words and time.