Client Surveys: Sure They Help Lawyers, But Aren’t They a Pain in the Neck for Clients?

Client surveys and customer feedback are all the rage these days and law firms are jumping on board. In fact, Matt Homann of LexThink released a great client survey template that’s available at Lawyerist.

Like the experts, I’ve always believed, albeit somewhat reflexively, that client surveys improve the client experience.  And I still do.  But at what cost to the very clients we’re trying to help?  That’s the question I’ve been asking myself since last week, when I finally lost patience with the constant inundation of surveys that consumers encounter on a near daily basis.

In my own case, my annoyance with surveys came to head on the final morning of a recent cruise that I took with my family.  Trying to ready my family for our 7:30 am debarkation, I tripped over a customer survey that had been slipped under the door.  Bleary eyed and pressed for time, a survey was the last thing I wanted to do that morning.  And I certainly wasn’t going to save it for later and mix it up with all of the customs forms and passports that I needed for reentry.

The client survey form wasn’t mandatory, but even having to throw the darn thing away was another irritation that I just didn’t want to deal with.  I’d just paid good money for the trip – so why should I have to give my time on top of my cash to help a for-profit company earn more money?

So,  what’s in it for clients who complete a customer service survey?  Shouldn’t we pay them for their time or otherwise send them a small reward (and no, a discount off their next visit or a t-shirt with the law firm logo doesn’t really count as a reward) for taking time out of their day to help us make our law firms better?  We compensate management consultants, rather handsomely I might add, to review our law practices and offer advice on improvement.  Then why don’t the same rules apply to those whose views matter most:  our clients.

What are your opinions on client surveys?  How can we get clients’ attention for surveys amidst all of the other feedback that consumers are asked to provide already?  And are there better alternatives than a survey to ensuring that clients have an opportunity to tell us what they think?

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