The Legal Chamber Newsletter • September 2011
10 Steps to Designing a Client Satisfaction Survey
What do your clients really think about your firm? It's better to get feedback on your terms than being thrashed online. Clients love being heard, especially when they're forking over the dough.
Below are some aspects of your firm you should learn about through a client survey:
- Figure out what you want to learn.
- Ask how they found your firm to see where your marketing efforts are working most effectively.
- Ask what they learned from working with a lawyer. Clients are as curious as ever about how their case is progressing and why certain decisions are made.
- Were they satisfied? Sure, some people are always unhappy, but if disproportionate amounts are underwhelmed, something drastic needs to be done.
- Ask clients to rate the other components of your office like the paralegals, office staff, billing department and overall firm impression.
- Are your fees reasonable? In addition to comparing prices with fellow lawyers, clients who pay the bills know best. Pricing often determines who your clients will be.
- Were you clear? Your clients should understand everything from your bills to your explanations of the case and their options.
- Would they recommend your services to others? Word of mouth is still one of the most effective tools for getting clients in the door.
- How can you improve your communication? Allow clients to make suggestions, whether it is about email, telephone, or other correspondence.
- Are there any specific things you could improve on? Feedback specific to employees is a great way to access performance and tackle inefficiencies.
The Best Companies to Host Your Website
Web traffic accounts for an insane portion of business these days. Even if people don't end up purchasing the product online, they usually begin researching there.
Your website is the cheapest form of advertising. It also holds the most potential for generating revenue.
Below are our favorite companies that offer premium website hosting (without the premium pricing). Each of these comes with unlimited bandwidth and disk space.
iPage is a secure hosting service that best caters to small businesses and bloggers looking for more. For your SEO (search engine optimization), they have free Google, Yahoo, and Facebook Marketing Credits.
FatCow is optimal for lawyers who want something easy. Sure, the lure of the GoDaddy.com websites are rampant, but FatCow offers customer service like no other. FatCow offers a free website builder, domain name, and a shopping cart for anything you want to sell (I'm thinking client payments).
JustHost.com is an outstanding option for other inexperienced webmasters. Like FatCow, JustHost offers a free site builder, instant setup, and unlimited domain names. They also tout 24/7 technical support and live chat.
HostMonster accommodates professional webmasters as well as novices. They claim to have the fastest customer phone support and even offer unlimited email accounts for your growing law firm. It was even voted Best of 2011 by cPanel, the industry leaders.
Hiring? 4 Essential Leadership Skills To Look For
As lawyers, we're all into equal rights and opportunity. But the fact is not everyone is a leader or cut out for the rigid deadlines of the legal business. Some of us haven't ever hired a new employee before!
Below are 4 essential business skills to look for when hiring an administrative assistant or office manager:
- Organized-Any time you're juggling a number of cases and clients, you want to know your paperwork is getting copied, filed, and sent. Messiness and disorganization are big turn-offs for clients.
- Utility Player-You want to find an employee who isn't afraid to get their hands dirty with the little things in front of them. Nobody likes an aloof coworker. On the flipside, employees in positions of power also need to know how to delegate tasks.
- Communication-It's arguably the most important thing in any business. Make sure your candidate can properly deal with customers as well as perform day-to-day tasks like status reports.
- Honesty-You don't want someone who will shy away from the uncomfortable realities of practicing law. Having honest employees means you can get honest feedback and trust them.
Perpetually Unhappy Clients
Sometimes, no matter what the outcome of the case, you'll be stuck with a client who absolutely refuses to be content. No matter what you do or how hard you work, this type of client will continue to blame your services, blame the courts, and bemoan their situation, refusing any and all solutions you propose. Unfortunately, the only real cure for these clients is prevention.
Learn to spot problem clients from afar, and your stress level will decrease dramatically.
Keep an eye out for these warning signs:
- A client who demands that things get done right away.
- A client who thinks they know more about the law than you do.
- A client who has very high and/or unrealistic expectations.
Crazy clients are nothing new, especially for us in the legal business. Clients have more misperceptions about law than any other profession. Outrageous lawsuits are fairly commonplace these days and even when there's a legitimate case like wrongful death, newspapers can skew the story to make it seem that every average Joe is entitled to some kind of massive settlement for nothing.
Besides unrealistic expectations, clients can now trash you online (think Yelp.com or a personal blog) and directly hurt your business. It's best to try and work through the problem if it's too late to bail or pass them off to another lawyer. You don't want to turn away a potential client, but you also don't want someone that will be a complete screaming nightmare.
You may be able to avoid these types of perpetually unhappy clients by creating a new/potential client survey and looking for the warning signs above. Careful screening is paramount in making money from good (legitimate) cases.