This Summer, Introduce the Client Communication Feedback Survey into Your PracticeNSRLP
NSRLP has focused over the last few months on the theme of communication among justice system players. One of the projects we have been working on throughout this period is the NSRLP Client Communication Feedback Survey, which we are releasing today. The Survey is endorsed by many respected leaders in the legal profession (listed below, with some reactions to the Survey quoted here).
The Survey comprises 5 simple questions that focus on the issues that we hear most often from clients cause them disappointment and stress in their interactions with the profession (and are reflected in the most frequent causes of complaints to regulators). We know that many former clients felt that they did not fully understand what services they were paying for and why – and that even if they did not formally complain, they carry a continued sense of unfairness and dissatisfaction. Others talk about feeling they were not really listened to, and that their expectations were not managed in a realistic way.
We believe that the answers to the 5 Survey questions will provide important information for lawyers. Contrary to what some lawyers may think, it is in the clarity and honesty of their communications with clients that most conflicts first arise, rather than in relation to the lawyer’s technical competence (although these are easily conflated, making clear and frank communication even more important).
“Our clients come to us because we have expertise and judgment that our clients don’t have. But what makes our assistance valuable limits our ability to see things as our clients see them. Feedback from our clients makes us better lawyers and better able to serve our clients. We don’t know what we don’t know.” (Malcolm Mercer, Bencher, Law Society of Upper Canada)
“My law practice involves First Nations people, specifically Ojibwe and Cree peoples. As an Ojibwe person myself, I understood that our communication methods are different, that a story is told in a certain way and in our own time. Over time, watching non First Nations lawyers interact with their Cree or Ojibwe clients, I wondered how much the lawyer was missing as he/she asked questions rather than listening and how that affected their representation. Many of the lawyers picked up on the communications method of their clients but it would have been so helpful had the non First Nation lawyers known of the different communication methods prior.” (Susan Hare, Bencher, Law Society of Upper Canada)
The Survey can be downloaded and provided as a single sheet hard-copy sheet to your clients (and then handed directly to a member of your firm’s staff, posted into a mailbox in the reception area – or if you prefer snail mail include a stamped addressed envelope). Alternatively, using free software such as Survey Monkey (https://www.surveymonkey.com) would enable your clients to access the survey easily and the results would be immediately compiled for you. Whether hard-copy or electronic, the results are private to each firm.
The Survey will take less than 2 minutes for clients to complete, while allowing them to give important feedback. It will be anonymous unless the client waives this and is willing to talk further about any concerns.
A 2012 study found that over 60% of commercial (B2B) law firms now use client feedback surveys with their business customers, and 87% of these felt that obtaining client feedback was “important” or “extremely important” to their firm. More than half “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the firm had adjusted its services in response to feedback.
“Every business person knows – to be effective: understand your customer’s needs. In his book, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey made famous the habit “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This survey will help you understand your clients. It’s easy, it’s quick; the results are actionable; I encourage you to participate.” (Ronald G. Friesen, Chief Executive Officer, the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia.)
A quarter of those who said they did not use a feedback survey said it was because of lack of staff or resources. We know that fewer small and personal law firms use client feedback surveys, likely for the same reasons. The NSRLP Client Communication Feedback Survey takes the labor out of constructing and disseminating a client survey – just download it here (https://representingyourselfcanada.com/2015/05/26/client-feedback-survey).
The NSRLP Client Communication Survey is endorsed by many respected legal profession leaders (in alphabetical order):
Howard Black, Minden Gross; The British Columbia Collaborative Roster; Nancy Cameron QC and Past President, International Academy of Collaborative Professionals; Doug Downey, Lewis Downey Tornosky Lassaline & Timpano; Ronald G. Friesen, Executive Director, Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia; Susan Hare, Susan Hare Law Office and Bencher, Law Society of Upper Canada; Rob Harvie, former Bencher, Alberta Law Society and former Chair of the Access to Justice Committee; Marion Korn, Collaborative Practice Toronto; Susan Munro, Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia; Jamie Maclaren, Bencher, Law Society of British Columbia and Executive Director, Access Pro Bono British Columbia; Susan McGrath, Bencher, Law Society of Upper Canada and Past President, Ontario Bar Association; Malcolm Mercer, McCarthy Tétrault and Bencher, Law Society of Upper Canada; Quinn Ross, The Ross Firm.
If any other individual or organization would like to add their names to this endorsement, please contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org