Friday, February 15, 2013

Ask for Referrals and Testimonials Early in the Relationship.

One of the most difficult things to do is to ask for a referral or testimonial. By doing so, you are implicitly asking the client to grade you. It can be an uncomfortable situation- especially if the client might prefer not to recommend you. Furthermore, most attorneys wait until late in the relationship to ask for a testimonial or referral.  But waiting until the matter is over  or the case has evolved carries numerous risks. For one, the matter may not  have concluded as the client expected. Two, familiarity grows as a case or matter progresses and, as the old adage goes, ‘familiarity breeds contempt’- which can happen even when the results were acceptable.

 As a result, requests for referrals and testimonials are rare. But there is a time when the mood and relationship are primed for the request for a referral or testimony. That point is in the beginning. In every relationship, there is slope in the level of satisfaction in the relationship. In marriages and dating it is called the honeymoon phase. This fuzzy-and-warm phase occurs in professional relationships too. The early period presents the best time to make these important requests.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Client Love Letters.

In honor of Valentine's day, I thought I'd post a short tip to easily find out how much clients love you.

Getting feedback on the firm’s or attorney’s performance doesn’t need to be rocket science or expensive. In fact, asking one simple question and monitoring your progress in improving the response can achieve 70% of what all the other client service tracking feedback systems will do.

On a scale of one to five, how likely are you to refer me (the firm) to your closest family, friends and professional peers?

This one question is used by hundreds of businesses throughout the world. It gained traction as a legitimate tool after an article appeared several years ago in the Harvard Business Review. Since then this question has made it into Board reports, management reports and personnel evaluations.
To get more inforamtion, consider adding a section where respondents can write in their comments. Ask clients to tell you anything that you could do to improve your service. And then thank them for their input. You can put the form on your website, in closing file letters, in your invoices or send it out with your publications.
The added benefit of this simple question is that it implies that your clients should be referring your services to others. Not a bad thing to have happen.
This one question is the simplest yet most revealing method to determine whether you are meeting your clients' service expectations. On a five point scale, you should be getting scores in the 4.5 to 4.8 range, if your service is on par with other firms. Be sure to follow up on every comment you receive and thank your clients for giving you their feedback.