Client Surveys - Why use them?
With the legal marketplace “heating up” as Coronavirus restrictions are eased off, firms could be forgiven for wondering why we’d write an article about Client Surveys.
Fair enough. What might not be obvious is that the data contained in Client Surveys can be “pure marketing gold” in terms of Public Relations and Marketing, and also in terms of working out whether any particular department or fee earner is efficient and effective in delivering a service to clients…
But we’ll get to that. Maybe some questions to ask first are;
- Is our client survey form useful to gather client feedback?
- Is the medium we use to collect feedback working?
And these are important questions.
Typically for every 100 client surveys sent to clients, around 5 are returned. So, if firms are going to only get that sort of ratio in returns, they have to make sure that the questions that are asked give as much information as possible when returned.
This means that they need to be a mixture of “Qualitative” and “Quantitative” questions.
Qualitative questions ask for narrative feedback to gain a greater depth of understanding. They are also very useful in terms of marketing as they can contain complimentary wording from clients. Equally however they may contain non-complimentary wording that may require investigation, as Client Surveys can also be an early warning system for issues that can become complaints.
Quantitative questions are there to help with statistical analysis. For example, “Would you recommend this firm to others?” This is a Yes/No answer question and would be used when counting responses so that the firm can quote such things as “98% of our clients would recommend our services.”
The other thing to bear in mind for either is not to have too many questions. We would suggest no more than 10; this is because with such a low return rate, the client shouldn’t be in the position to think, “I really can’t be bothered…”
Also, important to consider is the medium for delivery of client surveys. If a client has to go to the trouble of filling out a form, obtaining an envelope, writing the firm’s address and getting a stamp then we may be back to “I really can’t be bothered…”
There are more alternatives to paper-based forms now than there have been in the past. Surveys can be completed on mobile phones via text. They can be sent out via email to clients (SurveyMonkey is good for this), or a link can be sent to them to visit the firm’s website with a downloadable survey form. Firms can let clients know as part of the initial instructions that a survey would be sent to them and check their preference for how they would like to receive it. Not everyone will want to go on-line for example.
Also, to consider is “identification” of clients. The easiest way is not to put their name on the survey, but rather the file reference number so if there appear to be any issues identified, then the file can be examined for correlating evidence.
When receiving client surveys the next thing to consider is how long a period should pass before they are analysed? We usually help firms analyse data on an annual basis, normally where they have 50 or more returned surveys, otherwise there may be little value in the statistical analysis.
Once the analysis period is determined the next thing to consider would be how to analyse. Our normal mechanism is to develop an Excel spreadsheet template that mirrors the customer survey and then build any statistical or graphical analysis from that.
During the analysis it is pretty quick to build a picture of any trends, good or bad, by department or fee earner, which can then be fed back either for improvement or for others to learn how a given fee earner does so well.
The analysis then can be turned into a report, and this is where the “pure marketing gold” can come in. There may be a number of comments from clients praising fee earners or the practice which can be quoted (with the client anonymised) on the firm’s social media, blogs, websites, marketing literature etc.
Such reports are also useful if the SRA decide they have a concern with the firm…
It is also worth noting that there are requirements for Customer Survey procedures in Lexcel V6.1, CQS, WIQS and from the Legal Aid Agency.
So, maybe it’s time for firms to review their Customer Survey systems and gain valuable insight and marketing collateral to support them in these strange times…