Idea in brief

How can you identify the components of your firm’s reputation, and what questions should you be asking your clients?
Value drivers provide a common framework for measuring brand alignment and any gaps between your brand promises and client reality.

Man looking at 5 ratings stars text says what's driving your law firm's reputation?

Every partner and every employee contributes to a law firm’s reputation.

But which ones are making the difference?

Imagine if you could see how consistently your teams were contributing to your firm’s overall reputation. Put another, imagine being able to track where your firm’s brand promises match your client’s reality.

In this post I’ll briefly cover:

  • How you identify the components of your firm’s reputation
  • What questions to ask your clients

In part 2 I’ll cover:

  • What to look for in the responses
  • How to use the resulting insights to strengthen your reputation and drive more revenues

How to identify your firm’s value drivers – the core components of your reputation

According to Jeff Bezos, your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. So what do you want clients to be saying about your firm?

This isn’t always an easy question to answer. Different partners and practice areas often have different views about what drives value for clients and how their services are distinctive.

Now imagine you’re a client looking for a law firm they can partner with across the business. As they ask around, do they hear disconnected, and even conflicting stories about how your firm adds value?

The first step to strengthening your firm’s reputation is to define and agree what that reputation is built on. What should differentiate your firm in the minds of your target clients?

This requires looking beyond nice phrases like “good customer service” and getting specific. Your goal is to define the 3-4 characteristics that clients should expect to feel and experience, regardless of who they deal with.

For example, is it the approachability of your people, how quickly they respond or how well they use the firm’s wider networks? Perhaps it’s your innovative approach, sector expertise or value for money.

The key here is being specific about how you stand out. Last year we ran some research with around 50 law firms, and 89% of respondents said that their firm aimed to be above average for approachability and friendliness. There’s nothing wrong with this goal, it’s an important attribute for clients. However the bar for ‘above average’ – and therefore distinctive – is probably higher than you think.

At MyCustomerLens we have a model which defines 10 such value drivers, and links them to questions and analysis. If you’d like to receive a copy, please drop us a message using the contact us page.

What questions to ask your clients

Once you have your firm-wide value drivers, they need to become the beating heart of your client listening programme.

To achieve this, you need to ask clients up front what their expectations are for each aspects of the client journey. You then check in against those expectations during a matter and then review the experience at the end.

To do this, define a simple rating question for each value driver. One that can be asked across the firm during surveys and client interviews.

For example, if responsiveness is one of your value drivers you can ask ‘On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate our response times and delivery timescales’.

The key is keeping the wording consistent. Having a simple and consistent question, that’s easy for clients to answer, enables you to benchmark client experiences – over time and across offices/practice areas.

Once you have your quantitative measure, add two questions to get understand the skin of why your client’s have given that score. Numbers are nice, but text comments are where the real gold is buried.

We recommend clients ask two simple open questions each time (the alternatives in brackets are sharper versions):

  • What did we do well (where did we exceed your expectations)?
  • What could we do to support you better (in what areas can we improve)?

These open questions give clients the space to tell you what’s on their mind, rather than ticking boxes based on what other people think they will say.

The bottom line?

To manage and strengthen your firm’s reputation, start by:

  • Defining your firm’s 3-4 value drivers
  • Asking consistent ratings questions to measure firm-wide performance
  • Asking two open questions to discover what’s driving the gaps and peak performance

Further reading – tips on how to proactively boost your firm’s reputation

Create a stand-out brand experience

Brand alignment – does your promise match reality?

What are your clients saying about you when you’re not in the room?