One of the upcoming changes within corporate law firms in the years ahead will be how to adapt to gathering, consuming and utilizing more insight gained from client feedback. Whilst there is little new in the concept of interviewing clients, after all, it’s been going on for many years, what is changing fast within law firms is an ability to systematically gather regular feedback.
Feedback can be gathered from different clients on many occasions (e.g. matter closure, relationship assessment, secondment feedback, and post-pitch), then processed, and made use of on a significant scale, in almost real-time. This facilitates client feedback being regularly available to decision-makers when they need it.
In many ways, the introduction and usage of this type of regular client feedback within firms is similar to the adoption of email in the 90s - there becomes a time when the new service becomes universal and users can’t imagine how they managed without it.
The biggest changes to be observed in the forthcoming years
- A switch from ad-hoc single method interviews (e.g. a bi-annual web survey or occasional in-person interview) to systematically gathering feedback using several interview methods (e.g. phone interviews, in-person interviews, web surveys, etc.) appropriate to an interview opportunity.
- Passing the content gathered into a single feedback repository with tools to manage this content and make the content actionable, using analytics and data warehousing.
- Linking matter databases, financial and other data sources so that the content becomes an amazingly powerful source of knowledge and opinion, preparing for better use of AI.
The key audiences of a firm impacted by this redacted knowledge
- The matter attorney and relationship partner (for matter and relationship management).
- Senior business professional within firms (e.g. to support marketing, LPM refinements, competitive knowledge, pitch support, etc.).
- Specialist teams (e.g. risk and compliance).
- Clients and markets (feedback gathered is a source of original content and market knowledge that can be recirculated into training content, case studies, and marketing materials).
- Leadership teams who have informed decisions to make, and influence reward and incentivizing decisions.
What we can expect to see
We can expect to see more firms adopting a systematic approach to gathering feedback and developing firm-wide best practices to utilize its content. The content will increasingly be used as a management tool, seeing a subtle shift in the levers of power within firms as more client knowledge is utilized. This will enable wider teamwork and more collaboration as key client accounts are institutionalized and supported with key account management programs.
The legal press regularly forecasts the top 10 firms of the profession in 5 or 10 years’ time. It’s our opinion that only those firms who have effective client feedback systems in place within the next 5 years will be the firms of the future – the others will probably be absorbed or fade.
The larger the firm, the more challenging and time-consuming it is to implement a successful and sustainable client feedback initiative, but legal professionals who acquire the skills necessary to make client feedback happen and use it will be the future leaders of these leading firms.
This blog post first appeared in the fSquared Marketing Legal Marketing Trends 2020, published in January 2020.