Client Service Team Lesson #1: Listen to your clients

My first job was at TJ’s Big Boy Restaurant in Rochester, New York. It was here, at the age of 16, that I received my first formal training in client feedback.

As a hostess, when customers came up to pay their bill, it was my responsibility to collect and track feedback by asking, “How was your service today?” I then recorded the response on a form that I handed to the manager at the end of my shift. Every month, we received a report card and with specific areas in which we needed to improve.

What always struck me about that first job was that was the discipline that went into managing customer relations. They not only created a systematic way to collect feedback, they used that data to improve their business.

Like the restaurant business, the ability to deliver an exceptional service experience is central to the legal profession. Client feedback is perhaps the single most valuable investment a law firm can make to strengthen and expand existing client relationships.

But the reality is that too often lawyers give client feedback lip service. For some reason, lawyers have a hard time asking for feedback and an even harder time listening to that feedback once they receive it.

That is why I am a proponent of using a third-party to collect the feedback. A third party has the advantage of serving as an objective ear for the client. Equally important, a third party can help turn the feedback into action.

As my friend Ramona Cyr Whitley of Luce Forward tells her attorneys, “The only thing worse than not asking for client feedback is not doing anything once you’ve received it.” Client feedback is only as valuable as what you do with it.

At a global level, client feedback is the foundation for better understanding clients, making needed process changes across the firms and positioning your firm more effectively in the market.

At the individual client level, the feedback should become the basis for written action plans to strengthen and improve service going forward.

To read more about lessons learned from client service teams, check out my article, “Lessons from the Trenches: Client Service Teams.”

Next Time: Understanding your client.

Posted on July 21, 2010 in Business Development, Client Teams, Marketing

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