The best way to retain your current clients and win new ones (whether in law, real estate or other service industries) is to deliver superior client service. BTI Consulting publishes a Client Service All-Stars report each year listing the lawyers across America who provide the best client service as identified unprompted by their clients. I was pleasantly surprised to find my friend Greg Cook, a litigator with Balch & Bingham, on the most recent list.
People, there are 1.3M lawyers in the U.S. Only 319 made this list!
When I congratulated Greg on the Client Service All Star honor and asked him how he thought about client service, he said that it is his job to make sure his client is never blind-sided. To Greg, this means he not only has to be on top of every aspect of a case when it is in litigation, he also has to know what is happening with his client’s business so he can help that client avoid future litigation.
The BTI report backs up Greg’s interpretation of client service. It states that All Stars are defined as such by their clients because they share common traits, among the most important of which are superior client focus and an exceptional understanding of the client’s business. In his book Law is a Buyer’s Market, Jordan Furlong echoes this sentiment:
“Nothing will stitch a client closer to a firm than an assured confidence that the firm understands the client and is looking out for its best interests.” [Emphasis added.][i]
How can you find out how you’re doing with your clients if you didn’t make a list like BTI’s?
Many industries and individuals use Net Promoter Scores (“NPS”) to determine whether they are doing a good job for their clients. NPS is an index that measures the willingness of clients to recommend a company’s service to others. Clients are asked just one question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company’s service to a friend or a colleague?”
Respondents are categorized as Detractors (scores of 6 or lower) who were not thrilled with the service and could potentially damage the company’s reputation through negative word of mouth; Passives (scores of 7 or 8) who are not enthusiastic enough about the services to actually promote the service provider; and Promoters (scores of 9 or 10) who recommend the company’s services enthusiastically to others.
Your clients want you to ask them how you’re doing! (We know; we asked them. See our survey here.) I encourage you to send the Net Promoter Survey to your clients and then follow up with them to understand where you are falling short and identify opportunities to better serve them.
Your client service goal should always be to turn detractors or passives into “raving fans” – the ones for whom you did such a good job that they will sing your praises to others unprompted. To quote one of my favorite muses, Seth Godin:
“Surprises and vivid action matter far more than we imagine, and we regularly underinvest in them.”
The Ritz Carlton moments; the small services we provide to clients that they hadn’t even realized they needed; these are the things that will resonate with them far into the future and create those raving fans.[ii] And we can only provide this kind of service to them if we truly understand them and their businesses… but that’s this article.
If you need help, give me a call. I live for this stuff.
[i] This book is brilliant and worth every penny! Order it now. I am not (unfortunately) a paid endorser.
Consider two scenarios:
(1) A friend asks you to recommend an estate planning lawyer. You say, “I use Jane Doe. Here’s her number.”
(2) At a dinner party, a friend says “Y’all, my husband and I just finished the estate planning process we should have started ten years ago. We put it off forever because we dreaded it so deeply but Jane Doe made it incredibly manageable. Not only that, she pointed out ways we could better manage our assets to limit our tax liability in the future. You have to call her! Here’s her number.”
Now to put it in context of the BTI survey. The respondents were asked who they would recommend for legal work and one of them named Greg Cook. This is much more compelling than simply answering “yes” to the question “Would you recommend Greg Cook for litigation work?”
Clearly the unprompted recommendation carries more weight.