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The Rise of Client Value Management in the Business of Law

There's a temptation with professional services firms to conclude that clients measure value from the outcome of a matter or job. But industry research indicates that clients choose firms for reasons much more closely aligned with the overall experience rather than the outcome itself. Some of these reasons include:

  • Understanding your clients' needs, goals, and objectives
  • Being well-informed
  • Sharing information with your colleagues so that everyone understands what's happening
  • Anticipating issues and being proactive

Business-to-consumer companies are well versed in the importance of providing value. But it's measured little and understood less in the legal industry. Almost every firm has programs for managing strategic accounts and client feedback. But often the goals and the outputs of these programs are not related. Key account programs are almost always defined based on the value firms derive from clients without explicitly identifying the value firms deliver. That has to change.

Look Through Your Customers' Eyes

Ensuring that your firm is meeting client expectations begins with measuring its performance. For example, firms can use a system developed by Bain consultant and author Frederick Reichheld to see what clients think, resulting in the firm's Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

This methodology asks your clients how likely they are to recommend your firm to a friend or colleague on a scale of 0 to 10. Respondents are then divided into three categories depending on the score they give. They may be:

  • Promoters: The firm's strongest allies who are most likely to promote the firm to others
  • Passives: Those that are likely to be satisfied with the firm but don't actively promote it
  • Detractors: Those that are likely to be unsatisfied and may even be looking to switch to a new firm

Based on the insights resulting from this effort, you can implement programs and initiatives to maximize the value you deliver. Why do it? Bain analysis shows that companies that achieve long-term profitable growth have an NPS twice as high as the average company, and NPS leaders on average grow at more than twice the rate of their competitors.

Give Your Clients a Platform, Then Listen

If you have a great personal relationship with a client, they may refrain from giving feedback that's perceived as negative. That's why it's vital to give your clients a platform to tell you what's really important to them.

But the critical part in all of this is that you have to commit to doing something about what you learn. The real challenge is to make cultural and process changes that ultimately engineer the issue out of your business. This begins with including client feedback in your regular performance measurement activities and elevating its importance and visibility firmwide—and in particular—to those at the front of your business development efforts. After all, rinsing and repeating what you do well to delight clients is one of the fastest paths to business growth.

Wilson Legal Solutions

Wilson Allen brings together a team of a highly respected business and technology experts following the completed merger of Wilson Legal Solutions and Stanton Allen. The company is a leading global provider of consulting services and analytics and proforma management software that enables law firms and professional services organizations to improve business performance. It is a Certified 3E Services partner with Thomson Reuters Elite and is certified to provide services for all Intapp products. Its advisory services feature globally recognized business of law consultants who enable strategic, data-driven decisions. Click here for more information.

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