Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
At long last, many law firms have embraced the client survey as one of the most effective tools for ensuring client satisfaction and improving marketing efforts. Once you’ve decided to conduct a client survey, then the crucial decision is which of the many available client survey providers to choose. Not all client survey providers are created equal. Look for a company that really knows the legal market; understand what the fee includes; and insist that a knowledgeable consultant will follow through by interpreting the results, making specific recommendations, and showing you where your firm stands relative to others. 1. Does the client survey provider really understand the legal market? The importance of accurate survey analysis and interpretation is self-evident. It is equally important, however, that those conducting the analysis have knowledge and experience in the legal market. Professional service firms, especially law firms, have unique characteristics when it comes to personality and culture. And the legal market is unlike the commercial, retail, manufacturing, or service sectors. For these reasons, it is critical that your client survey provider and the professionals who interpret your survey results have extensive knowledge of the legal market. If they do not, it is possible that the design of the survey will not be appropriate or optimal for law firm clients; that areas of concern raised by respondents will be missed or misinterpreted; and that opportunities for cross-selling or receiving additional work will be misinterpreted or overlooked completely. 2. What’s included in the price quoted? Many companies offer a complete client survey for a fixed fee. The fixed fee is an attractive option, as it allows the marketing director or marketing partner to plan for the client survey in an annual marketing budget. Some of the bargain fees for client surveys are attractive at first glance, particularly while the economy remains sluggish and marketing budgets are under close scrutiny. But be sure to read the fine print and understand exactly what you can expect for the price quoted. Most fixed fees include, at a minimum, survey design, distribution, and tabulation. Some offer the option to post the survey on the Internet, in addition to traditional, written surveys distributed by mail, so that clients can complete the survey on the Web. Some also offer to deliver the results to you in an electronic format compatible with your firm’s existing systems. What you need from a provider doesn’t end with the written report, after the survey responses are tabulated. How do you interpret all of the data? How much of the information do you share with partners? With all lawyers? With paralegals and staff? How should it be presented? What action do you need to take based on the information you have received? How do you follow up? Make sure the fixed fee quoted by your client survey provider includes survey analysis and interpretation by a knowledgeable consultant with experience in conducting client surveys, particularly in the legal industry. Without the guidance of a consultant, survey results can be subject to misinterpretation. For example: • Seventy percent of your clients say they are completely satisfied with your services. Should you jump for joy or let the anxiety attack commence? • Seventy-five percent of your clients believe your fees are reasonable. Should you continue to pursue your existing plan for hourly rates or consider selective increases? A knowledgeable consultant should review the written report and tabulations with you in detail, preferably in person. Although every client survey is unique, a consultant should work with you to: • Analyze your survey results based on his or her experience; • Identify issues that require immediate attention and recommend how to address them; • Identify opportunities for cross-selling and additional work, and make recommendations on how to best capitalize on them; • Help decide how to roll out the survey results and to whom; and • Make specific recommendations on follow-up efforts the firm should pursue. Follow-up by the firm is often the most critical part of the client survey process. For example, imagine the situation where a client responds to the survey and waives the confidentiality of her response. She identifies specific areas of dissatisfaction — “Your lawyers do not return my call by the end of the business day,” “I am not satisfied with your updates on matter status” — and waives the confidentiality of her response. Weeks, perhaps months, pass, and the behavior of her lawyers does not change. If the client had not already considered firing the firm, she may after receiving no response to her feedback. Another type of client feedback that calls for a response by the firm is indicating a need for additional services, or services in new practice areas. Not responding in a timely fashion or, heaven forbid, not responding at all, will not only result in the loss of that client opportunity, but you may lose the opportunity for additional work in the future. 3. Can the provider tell you how your firm did relative to the industry? Receiving feedback from your clients is valuable in and of itself, but reviewing your client survey results in a vacuum is far less valuable than benchmarking where your firm stands versus the industry as a whole. Marketing experts understand this, and some client survey providers have begun to offer database comparisons that compare your survey results to those of other law firms. Understand what the provider’s database really contains. A database needs at least several thousand responses to provide an adequate basis for comparison. It is also critical that the information in the database is current — no more than a few years old. Can you imagine comparing your firm with the legal market five years ago? Ten years ago? From these comparisons, you can get a true sense as to how your firm is doing. Also, survey results that are better than industry benchmarks make great marketing tools. For example, “Our firm scored X percent better than average firms for being responsive to our clients’ needs,” or “More of our clients perceive the value of our firm as ‘excellent’ than the database average.” Database comparisons can provide some of the most relevant information in your client survey report. Make sure that your provider’s data will be useful to your firm. CHECKLIST Interviews with potential client survey providers should cover the following questions: • Do you have experience in the legal market? What type of experience? How much? • Have you conducted client surveys for law firms before? • What does your fee include? • What will I receive in addition to the survey design, distribution and tabulation? • What will you provide in terms of survey analysis and interpretation? • Will you provide any recommendations to our firm based upon our survey results? • Will you recommend follow-up strategies? • Do you maintain a database so that we may benchmark our results? • How many client survey responses does your database contain? • How current are the responses? A client survey can be one of the most valuable investments your firm can make. By being an informed consumer, you will get the best return on your investment. Marci Krufka is a consultant in Altman Weil’s Newtown Square, Pa., office. She may be reached at

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.