Client Satisfaction Is Built On Relationships, Not Just Exemplary Service

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...doing excellent work is merely the price of entry for competing in today’s environment.

Lawyers often assume that providing excellent legal advice is enough to satisfy their clients, and that meeting legal needs in a timely, efficient, and cost-effective manner will ensure a continued flow of work. 

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case: doing excellent work is more often than not merely the price of entry for competing in today’s environment. To get ahead of the others, you need to develop, maintain, and manage meaningful relationships with your clients, which should include the following five elements: 

1. Personal investment 

When you make a true investment – of time, of energy, of personal capital – in relationships with your most important clients, you step out in front of other lawyers and firms vying for the same work.

...it means getting to know what individual success looks like for the people you deal with on a regular basis.

That means learning about your clients’ business and industry, of course, but it also means getting to know their strategic objectives, their competition and competitive advantage, what individual success looks like for the people you deal with on a regular basis.

Fortunately, it’s not all that hard to get this information: most people will readily tell you if you ask. All you need to do is listen to the answers. 

2. Close partnership 

Clients want and appreciate lawyers who are true partners, who help them get ahead and bring them opportunities, make them smarter, give them strategic advice. Lawyers who help them resolve problems, long before they’re aware that the issue even exists. Clients want allies as committed to their success as they are, not service providers only interested when there are hours to be billed. 

3. Ongoing transparency

Clients need outside counsel that are honest and transparent. They stick with firms and lawyers who keep their word, even when it means admitting a mistake or blowing through a budget. They have a lot of choices for legal representation, and they’re going to pick the lawyers who make it clear that they’re acting in the best interest of the client, at all times. 

4. Regular feedback 

Successful firms institute formal feedback programs to ask their top clients “how we’re doing” on a regular basis. What’s more, they take action based on what they learn, particularly when that feedback uncovers problems or changes the client would like to make. It’s easy to do, but the fact that a feedback program can still make you stand out means that firms aren’t yet talking enough about the things that matter to their clients. 

Most clients are under continual pressure to improve processes, lower costs, and remove waste from the system...

5. Constant improvement 

Lawyers should work – in close coordination with their clients – to improve the delivery of legal advice, say through LPM or AI or other means, and to identify then eliminate inefficiencies from their service model, even those that might negatively affect firm revenue.

Most clients are under continual pressure to improve processes, lower costs, and remove waste from the system. That’s business as usual, and that’s the way they see the world. Shouldn’t their outside counsel take the same approach? 

Top-notch legal work is only the first step in client satisfaction. To wow your clients and keep them around for the long haul, you need to build relationships that are as meaningful for them as they are for you. 

*

[Lance Godard has spent three decades within the legal profession, in-house and as a consultant, helping lawyers and practice groups grow their book of business. Connect with him on LinkedIn and follow his new work on JD Supra.]

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