How to Avoid Losing a Client: Just Listen

Suzanne_lowe135Why do clients fire law firms?  Because they fail to listen to them, according to a thoughtful post by my colleague, Suzanne Lowe.

She points to new research by BTI Consulting,  "How [Law Firm] Clients Hire, Fire and Spend" : 53.7% of clients ousted their primary law firm; Only 30.7% of clients recommend their primary law firm; 64.3% of clients plan to hire a new law firm.

These are daunting numbers, but perhaps they will begin to shed light for law firms (and other professional service sectors) on one of the key findings that Suzanne Lowe and I recently found in our own study, "Increasing Marketing Effectiveness at Professional Firms."   

  • Professional firms that said they were extremely effective used three particular client-focused metrics in combination with each other.  These three are:  (a) Growing client revenue:  "Did you grow revenue with your client or not?" (b) Moving the phases of a sale through a pipeline:  "Did you close the sale or not?" and (c) Listening to the client:  "Did you listen to your client or not?"

"Let's face it: if the law firms in BTI's study were really doing a good job of measuring their "listening-to-the-client" initiatives, their percentage of retaining those clients, and growing their book of business with them, would be higher.  We found that it's not enough for firms to undertake simple client satisfaction surveys.  Rather, our findings reveal that successful professional firms take deliberate steps to improve their client satisfaction information-gathering approaches!" Suzanne says.

Ask yourself: 

  • "When is the last time we asked our clients whether our satisfaction surveys (feedback interviews, etc.) are really getting at their most critical issues? 
  • When is the last time we revised our client research approaches to go deeper than shallow client satisfaction questions, or systematically analyzed the factors that REALLY grow our client relationships?"   

One simple question -- "Would you recommend us to a friend?" -- is the one true measure of a firm's performance in the eyes of its clients, according to Suzanne.

Professional service marketers may not get the point of our study, but get it they must:  becoming more competitively effective and attaining true growth requires professional service firms to think differently about how to measure and deepen their clients' loyalty. 

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