Engaging Consistently to Understand Evolving Client Service Needs
By Maura Connell Brandt
October 31, 2023 | 4-minute read
Client Services External Client Communications and Feedback Content Type Article
Clients are navigating a business and legal environment that is complex and dynamic, making the delivery of exceptional service foundational to building sustained client relationships. An essential ingredient of any service program is consistent engagement to stay current on clients’ changing situations and needs. At Crowell & Moring, the voice of our clients — understanding their priorities and preferences — is front and center to our service program.
From helping clients to anticipate and plan by keeping them informed of recent developments and around the next corner issues, to collaborating intentionally to deliver practical and creative solutions, asking for and acting on feedback and developing new offerings to support their evolving legal and operational needs, focusing on delivering client service excellence is key.
Client Feedback: Core to our client service commitment is seeking feedback, including through formal and informal discussions initiated by the attorneys and senior professional staff who work closely with the client and strategic meetings with firm leadership. We want to ensure the work we are doing and service we are providing are in alignment with the client’s needs and objectives. We recognize how critical it is to engage consistently and in different ways to understand the steps we can be taking to further strengthen all aspects of the service we deliver and to align our team, our support and our offerings with client requirements and expectations.
Client Visits: Starting in 2022, as it became safer to return to in-person meetings, we kicked off a sustained initiative to visit clients. Our focus is expressing gratitude for the work they have entrusted to us, investing in the relationship and providing value to the in-house team. We have delivered presentations on recent legal developments, conducted bespoke continuing legal education (CLE) trainings, discussed diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) objectives and programs, provided detailed matter status reports, partnered on pro bono efforts, introduced colleagues who have relevant experience and background, identified value-added offerings — such as secondments — to support the client’s team and strategized about their business priorities and opportunities. Client visits are an important and continuing focus of our service commitment.
Client Conversations: Our weekly partners meeting provides a great opportunity for sharing client service best practices. We highlight innovative client relationship investment approaches, new service offerings we have developed and recent examples of strategic collaboration to draw on the firm’s legal, government and industry experience to deliver the answers and creative solutions clients need. In addition, we invite clients to join us at partners meetings, retreats and practice group and client service team meetings. We are grateful for the opportunity to engage in a timely discussion about what is top of mind for them, including near-term legal and business priorities and the types of service and support that impress and have an impact.
Client Service Teams: Client service teams provide an intentional structure for supporting all aspects of the client relationship. They facilitate the sharing of new ideas and knowledge, develop strategies and solutions for navigating the client’s opportunities and challenges, source the input of attorneys and professional staff with relevant legal, business and industry experience and identify effective and value-added ways to support the client’s team. What is foundational is a sustained focus on staying apprised of the full scope of the client’s needs, understanding all aspects of our relationship and current matters, proactively keeping the client informed and offering creative ideas for navigating new developments and sharing feedback and input from the client to ensure that we are in alignment with their preferences.
Client Service Best Practice Guide: Drawing on our interactions with clients, takeaways from feedback interviews and regular discussions across our practice groups, industry groups and client service teams, we developed a guide to highlight the many different dimensions of the service we deliver. Collaboration was front and center to the production of this robust resource, which was informed by innovative ideas, proven strategies and creative offerings valued by clients and contributed by lawyers and professional staff across the firm.
The ways in which client service is defined and delivered continue to evolve, reflecting the changing dynamics of the business of law and the complex needs of clients. A differentiated client service program requires consistent client engagement, a regular dialogue about client expectations and an ongoing focus on identifying new and different ways to deliver value-driven service.