Client Service Interviews

The Strategic Advantage of Client Service Interviews

Client satisfaction is a critical measure of a law firm's success and a pre-requisite for market leadership.  Reinforced over time, client satisfaction can be converted into client loyalty, the ultimate advantage in a competitive marketplace.  Asking clients the right questions, listening actively to their answers, and turning client feedback into consistent, meaningful actions are the cornerstones of client loyalty.  Conducting effective client service interviews (CSIs) can help ensure that your interests and your clients' are aligned:

  • Enhancing communications. Ongoing and candid communication between the firm and a client is a significant measure of an effective relationship.

  • Demonstrating appreciation. Law firms that conduct CSIs send a strong message to each client that the firm truly values the relationship.

  • Solving problems. Learning about and rectifying potential problems before they jeopardize client relationships is one of the principal benefits of CSIs.

  • Increasing knowledge about the client. Giving client teams a more expansive view of their clients' most important strategic and operational issues is a routine outcome of conducting CSIs.

  • Increasing understanding. CSIs are an excellent way of learning how clients perceive the firm and its competitors.

  • Identifying critical issues. The CSI process spotlights a client's most critical issues and priorities, making it possible for firms to approach them proactively.

  • Deepening client relationships. By converting satisfaction into loyalty, CSIs foster the creation of enduring client relationships that can withstand competitors' efforts to dislodge the firm.

  • Surfacing additional needs. CSIs improve the firm's understanding of the range of a client's potential legal needs.

  • Creating business-development opportunities. Heightening the firm's ability to identify new business-development opportunities is a principal outcome of the CSI process.

Zeughauser Group has a highly successful track record of conducting client service interviews for Am Law 100 and other market-leading law firms.  Our clients are sophisticated firms that work hard to foster client loyalty.  They understand the value that effective client interviews can add to their efforts, and they regard the time they devote to this process among their most meaningful investments.

Market-Leading Experience

Zeughauser Group's Client Service Interview partners are among the legal industry's most experienced, having made the CSI process a focus of their professional services careers, both as marketing and client-relations executives and as consultants.  Skilled at conducting client satisfaction interviews and in using the interview results to create actionable programs, we consistently uncover and provide firms and their relationship partners with useful and critical information for solidifying and enhancing their most important client relationships.

Law firms regularly comment on our ability to put the clients we interview at ease, to draw from them the most relevant and significant relationship issues, and to manage sensitive issues gracefully.  The executives we interview appreciate both our knowledge of the legal industry and our familiarity with their organization's history with the interviewing law firm.  They also value how our strategic questioning helps them assess relationships with their outside counsel more clearly.

Our Approach

Helping you increase and integrate client satisfaction into your client team and business-development strategies is the core of our CSI practice at Zeughauser Group.  In our experience, one-on-one, in-person interviews, conducted by an objective third party produce more valuable data than any other survey method.  Most significantly, they align firms with clients' concerns and, as part of a robust client service program, lead to enhanced service delivery to clients, which, in turn, increases client loyalty.

The chief objectives of our interviews are to:

  • gauge clients' levels of satisfaction with their lawyers and law firms;

  • identify client issues that need attention;

  • pinpoint the factors that drive clients' decisions to hire and retain counsel;

  • elicit clients' perceptions of competing law firms and their current counsel;

  • understand existing client service patterns in order to improve future service standards and training; and

  • provide useful, new information that strengthens client teams and re-invigorates their commitment to high levels of client service and satisfaction.

We work closely with you to turn this knowledge into action plans for your firm's client teams and to outline steps for addressing specific client concerns.  And if you request it, as a corresponding service, we offer guidance on creating and running effective client teams and managing key client accounts.

We also help you integrate our findings into your overall marketing and management strategies.  This use of client service interview findings often leads to the formation of firm-wide client service programs that build on the "best practices" that emerge during our interviews.  It ensures that these practices are institutionalized as a critical component of your ongoing agenda for marketing and business development.

Our Process

  • The Planning Stage. We meet with your firm's leaders to discuss the project, the firm's desired outcome, the timeline, and the methodology for assembling the list of clients to be interviewed.

  • How We Collaborate. We communicate with key members of your firm throughout the project to ensure that we have the benefit of your insights, client relationship experiences, and awareness of cultural and marketing sensitivities. To reap the maximum benefits of your CSI program, we recommend using the firm's internal marketing, business-development, and administrative resources to the fullest extent possible.

  • Developing the Questionnaire. We create a customized questionnaire for the client service interviews and discuss it with the firm prior to the interviews.

  • Assembling the Background Data. In order to be knowledgeable about the client's relationship history with the firm, we perform due diligence to learn relevant financial, staffing, and relationship information.

  • Conducting Interviews. We conduct individual one-on-one, face-to-face client service interviews.

  • Analysis and Reporting. We analyze the results of each interview and create a written report about each client that includes our recommendations about how to sustain and enhance the client relationship.

  • Debriefing. We conduct internal debriefing meetings with the relationship partner and/or the team that services each client.

  • Findings and Best Practices. Following the individual client reports and de-briefing meetings with each client team, we work with in-house marketers to summarize and present the findings and best practices to a group of key stakeholders designated by the firm. This presentation highlights themes that emerge from our interviews, along with recommendations for subsequent action. These themes usually take the form of common areas of concern or of opportunities for the firm to consider in designing its competitive strategy. They can include perceptions of the firm in its markets, characteristics that may differentiate the firm from its competitors, and recommendations for service standards that can help the firm enhance client satisfaction levels. Acting on the feedback is a critical step in the process as clients need to know that they are being heard and that action is being taken.

Because it is time-consuming for firms to implement a CSI program and to act on the feedback that CSIs generate, we encourage them to think strategically about how many interviews they initially commission, and to resist the temptation to interview more clients than they can service effectively after the interviews are completed.

Because the relationship-enhancing benefits of CSIs can be immediate, it is not surprising that most firms launching client service interview programs decide to sustain or expand them as part of a broader service initiative.

Contact Information

For more information, contact clientserviceinterviews@consultzg.com.