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Legal Business

Are you at risk of losing a client? 10 diagnostic questions

As my colleagues and I interview the clients of law firms, we hear a consistent set of complaints about the service that they receive from law firms.

Here is a short checklist to help law firms consider whether they have the basic management structures and systems in place to allow them to keep the clients they have and win new ones. These are not all of the issues, to be sure; but they are the ones that law firm clients most frequently mention. Each one relates to a basic structural weakness that has resulted a law firm losing a client or failing to get a new one.

Ask yourself:

  1. Are you willing to invest substantial amounts of unbillable time to learn the details and nuances of your clients' businesses?
  2. Have you proposed a fee structure other than an hourly rate before your client asked for one?
  3. Do you set up and use costs budgets, which you do not exceed without taking instructions from your clients?
  4. Do you provide regular progress reports without the client having to ask for them?
  5. Do you acknowledge all telephone calls, e-mails, and other communications from clients within 24 business hours?
  6. When a client has a question about a bill, it is resolved within three business days?
  7. Do you have a system to notify a client in advance when a deadline or promised delivery date will be missed?
  8. Do you have a system to identify and prevent the causes of errors in client service operations, rather than just fix them after they are discovered?
  9. Do you ask for feedback from your clients about their satisfaction with your services?
  10. If you are unavailable when a client calls you, is there another partner or associate who knows the file well enough to provide an interim response?

If you cannot give an unqualified yes to each of these questions, you could be at significant risk of losing a client.  A no answer can be an important clue about why you are not winning the new clients that you think you should have.

Fortunately, problems in most of these areas can be addressed quickly. The value of the time, effort, and external support that you will need is usually far less than the cost of losing even one significant client.

 Read more on the Walker Clark Worldview 

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