“We work with them all the time. We already know what they think of us”. This is one of the most common objections we hear from professionals about conducting client feedback exercises. However, when questioned, this perception is often based on assumptions rather than hard evidence.
When you are working regularly with clients, it is easy to believe that you have a good understanding of the relationship, and how the client views the relationship. But unless you ask your clients, you will never know for sure.
I strongly believe independent client feedback exercises are vital if you want to strengthen your relationships with your clients and increase your share of wallet. These should be conducted in addition to CEO/Managing Partner discussions with the client and in addition to fee earner conversations – which are also important discussions to have.
So, why are independent client feedback exercises so important?
Because they give the client the opportunity to speak openly and candidly about what’s important to them, the state of the relationship, their understanding of your business and what they’d like to see from you going forwards. It’s vital that the interviewer is perceived as independent and impartial and that the process is seen by the client as more than simply a ‘marketing exercise’.
Having conducted client reviews/feedback interviews both as an employee of a law firm and independently as a consultant, I’ve found clients have been much more open and honest since I’ve been engaged externally.
So, having established that you need to seek the feedback, you need to have specific goals in mind, in order to ask the right questions. Client reviews not only tell you what’s important to your clients and how you’re performing vis a vis a range of criteria, but they also enable you to benchmark your performance year-on-year and to focus your marketing efforts on those things that will make the biggest difference to your clients.
12 good reasons to conduct client reviews are to uncover:
- What is the true state of each of our client relationships?
- How well did a particular project/matter go from the client’s perspective?
- Why are we only getting a portion of a client’s work?
- Why are revenues from this client declining?
- How do clients and influencers perceive us? What is our current brand positioning?
- How closely are the firm’s brand and one individual’s personal brand linked?
- How are our competitors perceived and what does the market say our competitive advantage is?
- How can we get into a specific market?
- Why are we not winning business in a particular sector?
- How can we win work before it goes to tender?
- How aware is the market of the range of services we provide?
- What are the client’s priorities over the coming year and how can we support them?
Clients, and other stakeholders, like to be asked for feedback. Conducting reviews demonstrates you value your relationship with them. Provided there is appropriate follow-up, the process will enable you to strengthen your relationships and build client loyalty.
Do you conduct client (and other stakeholder) feedback exercises? If not, remember others do.
How have client feedback exercises helped your business?