For a firm’s Tier 1 or Key Clients, a comprehensive and multi-faceted program is needed to elicit feedback from various sources at various times and to monitor implementation of continuous improvements in client service.
Following are the three major components of a Key Client Feedback Program**:
** In addition to what follows, further discussion of the three major components of a Client Feedback Program for a hypothetical professional services firm can be found in our attached article, “Playing Defense,” that appeared in the March 1, 2007, issue of The American Lawyer.
Client Interviews with key contacts at each client are conducted by persons independent of the client serving team – third parties, firm senior partners and/or firm senior marketing personnel. The interviews are conducted in-person and are unscripted and open-ended. Generally, these Client Interviews should occur every 3 years or so at each Key Client and, therefore, be completed for all Key Clients during a recurring three-year cycle.
The purpose of the Client Interviews is to provide unbiased and unfiltered strategic intelligence by focusing on the client’s issues with respect to the firm, its services and alternative competitive offerings.
Client Dialogues are conducted by the respective Relationship Partner with his/her key contact and possibly other key client personnel. These sessions are conducted in-person and may be partially scripted. Such Dialogues should occur at least annually. The subjects addressed can include: review of recent work; appropriateness and performance of the client serving team; insights and observations regarding the client; the client’s needs and expectations for the coming year; and plans for continuing communications.
These Dialogues make service excellence a two-way street, identify what’s working and what needs attention and help position the Relationship Partner as a Trusted Advisor.
Client Visitations capitalize on the stature and broad knowledge of the firm Chair/MP wherein he/she meets with the senior executive at each Key Client. These meetings should occur no less frequently than once every 2 years and are conducted in-person and in an unscripted fashion. However, the Chair/MP is normally expected to come with an agenda , which should include forward-looking and strategic issues that would not only provide insights into business and legal topics but also address the client’s long-term legal needs and the firm’s relevant plans and trajectories. These Client Visitations can also include relevant aspects of client satisfaction and loyalty derived from the “Client Interviews” and “Client Dialogues” and explore additional topics of shared interest.
The purpose of the Client Visitations is to expand the firm’s relationship with each Key Client up to the highest level.