Client Loyalty: Do you deliver an exceptional customer experience (CX)?

12 February 2021

Susan Saltonstall Duncan

Client, Business and Practice Development Strategist, Consultant and Coach; Author

Susan Saltonstall Duncan, Client, Business and Practice Development Strategist, Consultant and Coach, provides excerpts and tips from the upcoming Special Report Building Enduring Client Loyalty: A Guide for Lawyers and Their Firms. In this blog, Susan examines how to provide an exceptional client experience.

Clients form impressions of you and your firm from their initial awareness of the firm and contact with you. Once they become actual clients, providing exceptional and consistent client service is critical to your success as a trusted legal provider. To develop and retain long-standing, loyal clients, however, lawyers and their firms will have to deliver an exceptional client experience (CX) in order to differentiate and develop long-term loyalty.
Customer experience encompasses all touchpoints your clients have and the impressions they form of your firm, therefore you need to consider that your clients begin forming impressions long before they formally engage your firm and that those impressions get further shaped after the engagement concludes. Each touchpoint of contact and service theoretically could be good or even excellent but the client experience still may not be perceived as excellent because it represents only a phase in the overall experience. For this reason, the first step a law firm must take is to map out the journeys that clients take over the lifecycle of an engagement, and hopefully over a long-term relationship. In mapping the journeys, they must identify – through the eyes of their clients – where the critical junctures are for delighting clients as well as where the pain points in need of improvement are surfacing
Customer experience encompasses the intangible aspects that your services create over time: how your clients feel about your firm and your brand, how you make the client feel, what your firm stands for, the promises you make and whether or not you deliver on those. Law firm clients will evaluate their satisfaction and loyalty based on the overall customer experience – the cumulative experiences they have over multiple touchpoints over time.
"Client service is still very "blah." Clients and lawyers often find themselves in a loveless relationship in which clients are unhappy with the lack of engagement, unresponsiveness, and ineffective communication. The relationship is historical based on predecessors likely, and the current responsible parties are afraid to make a change. Excellent customer experience does not really exist but because legal substance is still top priority, clients continue to work with those lawyers despite a consistently poor service."
Lucy Endel Bassli, former AGC for Legal Ops at Microsoft, now founder and Innovation Coach, Trainer and Consultant at InnoLaw Group
Superior customer experience leads to deeper loyalty and better revenue
Superior service leads to high satisfaction which leads to greater client loyalty. Having clients as “loyalists” who consistently advocate on your behalf is the goal every firm should have with every important client, especially since it leads to higher profitability. Many renowned management consultants have researched and quantified that firms that deliver exceptional client service and consistently rank highly on Net Promoter Scores will earn stronger client loyalty which converts to clients who engage the firm for additional services, make recommendations to colleagues and substantially increase the lifetime revenue value.
Susan Saltonstall Duncan, Client, Business and Practice Development Strategist, Consultant and Coach and author of Special Report Building Enduring Client Loyalty: A Guide for Lawyers and Their Firms