Our recent webinar, "From Good Law to Great Law™: Building a Culture of Business Development and Distinctive Client Experience," sparked some great conversation among attendees. How do you build a culture of law that:
- develops and maintains authentic client relationships;
- understands and provides counsel in context of the client business;
- communicates in ways that build trust and loyalty;
- demonstrate appreciation for clients and their business;
- seek and act on client feedback;
- demonstrates care in billing and fees?
GrowthPlay Managing Directors Deb Knupp and Jim Durham talked through those six pillars of client experience and how best to enable your firm to execute them. If you missed it, you can watch the webinar here.
We received some great questions from attendees and thought our broader network may benefit from the answers so we're sharing them here. Stay tuned for our next webinar in our Good Law to Great Law series. Dates and times to come soon.
Do you have any tips for helping to change the entrenched culture of the firm that is not progressive?
Culture change happens fastest when leadership is unified on core values, behaviors, and priorities. Realizing this can be a challenge in a large law firm environment, we have found that culture change can be inspired through “bright spots”. Check out this link to insights from Dan and Chip Heath who wrote the book Switch.
The essence of a bright spot is to cultivate, promote, encourage, highlight and showcase examples of “firm culture at its best” and link this back to positive client feedback, growth or other metrics. Human beings have desire to be connected to “winners” hence showcasing a bright spot causes attraction to make culture change.
How do you "operationalize" a firm-wide process that is scalable across many attorneys to follow through on their BD plans or doing the steps in the firm's desired client experience when there are only a handful of BD managers to consistently nudge them?
Here are a few best practices we’ve seen work well:
1. Stratify the lawyers by ABCs :
- A’s - Willing/Able
- B’s - Willing/Not as Able
- C’s - Not as Willing/Able
Put your proactive attention on the A’s first, B’s second and C’s last (if at all). Proactively schedule 15 – 20 minute BD Plan Tune-Ups with the A’s – to review BD plans, pick a major/minor to focus
2. Promote the "Your Law Firm Way" for Client Experience as a general communication and then spotlight/showcase those attorneys who are getting it right
3. Have BD managers conduct "Six Pillar - Client Experience" pod meetings
- Focus on best practice sharing on singular pillars vs. trying to digest all of the pillars at once
4. Work with lawyers/practice groups to build "Six Pillar - Client Experience" roadmaps
- Look for specific/key clients where growth, cross-selling or retention is key
5. Deputize “Lawyer/Client Experience Ambassadors”
- Break them down by practice group and leverage communication, training, best practice sharing, administration requests through liaisons
It sounds like there are firm management, culture and individual lawyer skill issues that all impact being a great law firm – in what order should they be addressed?
It often depends on the needs of your firm. Don't you love that consultant answer? However, we've found that as you are engaging individual lawyers in coaching on skills and awakening lawyers to the range of additional things they can control as it relates to client experience. It's often a great way to create the behavior of a Great Law lawyer and at the same time looking at what it makes to be a Great Law group, practice group or law firm. If you work hard on the individual skills and attitudes that helps create a wave that convinces upper management to drive change.
What is an appropriate thank you for an attorney or CPA or wealth manager for a client referral? A hand-written thank you note? A donation to a charity which will send a card?
We highly recommend a handwritten note that communicates appreciation and describes the positive impact the referral has had on the lawyer’s life. A donation to a charity is a lovely touch and can demonstrate relationship interest beyond the work itself. We have also seen how a signature edible (i.e. thank you cookies or key lime pie) as a way of marking the moment in a shareable gift.
What advice would you offer to a younger, perhaps first year, associate attorney with regards to how involved they can be with a client before it may be perceived as inappropriate for someone in that position to be engaging?
- We are seeing a growing trend of introducing younger talent/associates into clients through pro bono and charitable service activities with the client before engaging them in billable work activities. This give clients a chance to get to know the person and their character before promoting their legal technical skills.
- Consider a peer-to-peer networking/professional development opportunity at the client with their younger talent who are peers to your associates.
- Provide opportunities for younger talent to shadow senior talent when delivering work product or engaging in client social/client appreciation.
- Give your younger talent/associates a “major” by having them focus on subject matter expertise development in a very discreet, concrete area of focus – i.e. best technologies for e-discovery.