You want your clients to give you feedback, but are you asking the right questions? Listen today as our product director, Ashley Steckler, shares specific suggestions on how to get the feedback that can help your firm grow. She talks about what, when, and how to ask the right questions and get valuable information in return!
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- . Why do you want feedback?
- . Avoid feedback fatigue.
- . Specific questions to ask.
Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, a series of discussions with entrepreneurs and innovators about building a successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Lawyerist supports attorneys, building client-centered, and future-oriented small law firms through community, content, and coaching both online and through the Lawyerist Lab. And now from the team that brought you The Small Firm Roadmap and your podcast hosts
Zack Glaser (00:35):
Hi, I’m Zack Glaser.
Jennifer Whigham (00:36):
And I’m Jennifer Whigham. And this is episode 424 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today I am talking to Ashley Seckler on our team about how to get great client feedback.
Zack Glaser (00:48):
Today’s podcast is brought to you by posh virtual receptionist, Berkshire receptionist, and Lawyerist Lab. We wouldn’t be able to do this show without their support, so stay tuned and we’ll tell you more about them later on.
Jennifer Whigham (00:59):
Zack, it’s the last episode of 2022.
Zack Glaser (01:03):
Jennifer Whigham (01:04):
Yes. How do you feel about that?
Zack Glaser (01:05):
Feel good. You feel good? You do. 2022 was pretty okay. Yeah, I know. Not necessarily everybody feels that way, but personally 2022 is all right. So yeah,
Jennifer Whigham (01:15):
I’ve been writing 2002 all year, so I’m excited to stop writing that. I don’t know why I just wouldn’t stop 2002 on all my checks, jk. No more checks. But I did wanna say, so this episode is really interesting to me, and it’s one of the very few where I’ve interviewed, but it’s a really hands-on episode. Ashley and I walk you through, not you, Zack, but the listeners here on how to create a great client feedback form. We give you all the goods. So I am think this is going to be really helpful for anybody at who at the end of the year is trying to figure out how to get feedback from their clients. I going to be a good one.
Zack Glaser (01:55):
I think this is a good time to do that. It’s always a good time to do it, but you say walk you through Zack. It’s even good for me. The other day, actually, I was asking a client of mine how an attorney that we had brought in to help us manage a file did, and my wife actually was kind of on the sideline of that call, and she was like, Zack, that was a really good job of asking for feedback. Oh, I’ve never been good at that, even though I know how important I, I’ve never been good at asking for that feedback for my clients. And it was so natural. It was so simple, so easy. But we forget how normal it seems to the person who’s giving that feedback. Even on the phone, I was just on a call with this person and said, Hey, how did everything go? Yeah, how was this person to work with? I’ve referred this person to people all the time, but I haven’t worked with them from that side.
Jennifer Whigham (02:58):
What made the difference for you between being anxious about it to just it being natural?
Zack Glaser (03:03):
I think having it just beaten into my head by <laugh>, Lawyerist Media Violence, LLC. It’s one of those things where I harp on it a lot to people that I work with, to Lawyerist that I work with. And so if you’re going to talk the talk, walk the walk, I guess. So I think that’s where it came from, but also, I don’t think all attorneys don’t do it because they don’t want to or because they’re afraid of it. It gives me anxiety just cuz that’s how I am. I think people forget to when, when’s the good segue? When’s the good time? And you guys obviously get into that in this episode, which I think is extremely helpful.
Jennifer Whigham (03:43):
We do get into it,
Zack Glaser (03:44):
But before we even get started, you guys have a thing in the show notes about what questions you can ask and stuff like that. So I think this is a really, really helpful, I like where the rubber meets the road. As a Lawyerist coach, I really enjoy giving people actionable things, and I think this episode
Jennifer Whigham (04:04):
Does. Is that a country song where the rubber reads from the road? If it’s not, it is now and I’ll be composing it after this. One thing I wanted to do before we get into our episode is just say that this is kind of what a coaching call looks like in Lawyerist Lab, this episode. And Ashley is a coach. She does some coaching, and when you are working with somebody in Lawyerist Lab, which is our coaching program, they will ask you questions like this. It’s a lot of really good thought-provoking questions, so it is a good thing for me to tell you as the community director of Lawyerist Lab, that it’s a good place and you should think about joining. So we’ll also have a join link in the studio notes.
Zack Glaser (04:42):
Well, before we go over to your conversation with Ashley, what would we be if we didn’t ask people for their feedback on our show? Yes, please go into wherever you find our show on Spotify or Apple Podcasts or whatever, and give us a rating. If you like it, give us some good stars. If you don’t, then we’d rather you email us and tell us that.
Jennifer Whigham (05:05):
Yeah, but we wanna know,
Zack Glaser (05:07):
But we do wanna know. And you can find us on Twitter, you can find us on Instagram, you can find us easily on LinkedIn or just find us on at our webpage Lawyerist dot com
Jennifer Whigham (05:18):
Or at our houses. Just knock on the door
Zack Glaser (05:20):
Or at our houses. We’re always open. Now here is Jennifer’s conversation with Ashley.
Ashley Steckler (05:30):
Hi, I’m Ashley Steckler. I am the product director here at Lawyerist.
Jennifer Whigham (05:34):
Hi Ashley. So today we had you on to talk about client feedback, and this came out of you helping me with our Labster feedback. That’s the people that are in our coaching program. And each quarter we ask them a set of questions to see how is lab going? And when you’re helping me with that, I was like, oh man, we have to have Ashley on the podcast because this is so useful. So that’s what we’re doing here today in case anybody needed the background.
Ashley Steckler (06:00):
When you asked me, Hey, can we take a look at the survey that I’m sending out? I wanna tweak it here and there. We ended up having this great conversation, which was tons of fun for me. And we’re looking at it a little bit differently when you just say client feedback. We’re going to specifically talk today about how we actually set up a survey or an ask that really allows people to tell us what it is that we want to know,
Jennifer Whigham (06:28):
Because that’s harder than it seems. You would think you could just ask simple questions, but you’ll soon find out that you don’t get the information that you want. And so the first thing I wanted to ask you was, when we ask our lectures kind of, why do you want client feedback? They’re like, well, we just wanna know how we did. But that doesn’t seem like a specific enough reason. So how do they get to their why of why they want the feedback in the first place?
Ashley Steckler (06:54):
Yeah, I think often we start from the place of I want feedback, I wanna know what I can improve, I want to be better. And that’s great, but general feedback isn’t clear when we get it. Everyone wants examples, specifics, clarification. And so when you’re asking general questions, that’s really not clear either.
Jennifer Whigham (07:19):
And what’s an example of a general question that won’t get you a clear answer?
Ashley Steckler (07:24):
Tell us how we did.
Jennifer Whigham (07:25):
Oh yeah, I see a lot of those.
Ashley Steckler (07:28):
What did you think? How is your experience,
Jennifer Whigham (07:32):
Which paralyzes people typically?
Ashley Steckler (07:35):
Yeah, it’s this really big space and I don’t know what your expectations are. I’m not sure if you want me to talk about how I thought the consultation went, how I thought you handled my case, how I thought about the result of what I wanted to have happen, how I thought about the timeframe of our work together.
Jennifer Whigham (07:56):
But then that seems like a lot of information. So I do wanna kind of dig into how we get that information from people without overwhelming questions. But again, it sounds like the first thing we need to figure out is what exactly do you want to find out from them? And so how do people figure that out?
Ashley Steckler (08:15):
So I would say start off with asking yourself, what is it that I really want to learn and what’s the simplest way that I can ask that or approach that? And so do you want to improve or get more feedback on how you can improve communication? Do you want to make sure that you’re closing cases faster, that you are having a more clarified onboarding experience? Do you want to be able to better set up expectations for clients? Are you working through optimizing case management and how that is interacting with the client? Are you launching a new offering? And so you wanna figure out if it’s working well or what you could do next? Do you wanna consider how you might tailor a new offering? Are you switching pricing? Is the value add there for them? You wanna, what is it that I wanna come out with having information to use? Right? What’s the data that I wanna have at the end of this?
Jennifer Whigham (09:21):
And so let’s kind of talk through creating an example survey, and then we are going to get into the platforms you might use in a second. But I wanna just focus on the questions because I think you’re making some really good points here. And you’re saying a lot of different things. And so first I wanna know, should we be asking about all of those things in one survey or should it be very focused on one thing?
Ashley Steckler (09:45):
Jennifer Whigham (09:46):
Yes, <laugh>. Because don’t
Ashley Steckler (09:49):
Ask about all of those things. Get clear on what’s the most important for you to know right now and get very specific on how you’ll ask the one thing that you wanna know. Okay. Because if we’re asking them to invest 10, 15 minutes, it’s way too long. Yeah.
Jennifer Whigham (10:08):
Oh, interesting. How long, should does survey or feedback survey be
Ashley Steckler (10:12):
Three, five minutes max. Wow.
Jennifer Whigham (10:15):
Okay. And does that include thinking time from the client?
Ashley Steckler (10:19):
Yeah. So actually if you think about how much time do you want your client to invest in your survey because it really is actually a favor to you. Yeah, it’s a fairly big ask. And anything that extends beyond five minutes is too much, too thoughtful, too time consuming, too many examples, too much writing. And so if you can upfront set those expectations by using language in a few words and then ask your question. Because oftentimes when we’re responding to something and it is an open-ended feedback form with a field, if that field looks like it’s a paragraph, I might think that I need to fill up that whole paragraph. But really what the person’s asking me is a few words, what comes top of your mind when you think of? And so we’re getting that train of thought, which is the most authentic. We don’t want people to sit there and try to wordsmith what it is that they want to most perfectly let us know. Right?
Jennifer Whigham (11:27):
So it’s kind of like, tell us the first thing that comes to your mind when you think et cetera. Just giving those prompts that let people know that we’re not looking for a brief here, we’re not looking for some perfect essay. We really just wanna know your first thoughts in that. Yeah. Let’s talk about the questions a little bit now too. So let’s kind of use that client communication example you talked about, I really wanna know if I’m communicating with my clients in the way they wanna be communicated with, is my communication clear? So how would I create questions around that? What do I need to think about when I’m creating questions?
Ashley Steckler (12:00):
Yeah. You and I talked about kind of a little bit of the survey psychology of how you get someone invested in giving you feedback. And one thing is to ask easy questions first.
Jennifer Whigham (12:16):
So what’s an easy question?
Ashley Steckler (12:17):
Rate your experience with our firm on a scale of one to five.
Jennifer Whigham (12:21):
Okay. So something that’s not an open-ended question, but perhaps is just a one button click.
Ashley Steckler (12:28):
Or you could ask, how likely are you to refer us to someone and then have an easy one button click one to five. We don’t want one to 10. People don’t know what seven, eight, but they can think about one horrible five. Fantastic. And where did my experience fall?
Jennifer Whigham (12:51):
Yeah, that makes sense. And so then once you get through those easy questions, I assume they kind of the prime’s future responses for more complex questions. And then what would happen next? What kind of things would you ask next?
Ashley Steckler (13:06):
Yeah, so I would say ask those easy questions first. Another rule that I like to mention is don’t ask questions that you already know. So if you can capture any demographic data or case data that might link you to the type, you know, might wanna sort responses eventually, if you actually already have that data with their email, you can just ask for their email. You don’t have to say, what’s your email? What’s your name? When did you have a case with you? Things like that. Because you have that. And so that’s just, you are going further into survey fatigue with the user and the client by asking them things that you actually already have.
Jennifer Whigham (13:56):
That is fascinating. So even if they know the answer and it’s a quick one, like a name that will still add to the fatigue.
Ashley Steckler (14:03):
Jennifer Whigham (14:05):
That makes a lot of sense. And so in the different questions is maybe you get even to the complex questions, or as we say them complex. I think one place our Lawyerist might get tripped up is legalese are making the question a little more complicated than they need to. What is your advice for that when they’re really trying to form the right question here?
Ashley Steckler (14:29):
Yeah, I would say use plain simple language that your clients are already familiar with. We talk a lot about communication with your clients, being client-centered, client forward, make sure that they understand, meet them where they are in their case. You wanna do that with the feedback that you’re asking from them. Also, you don’t wanna use all of your internal jargon.
Jennifer Whigham (14:56):
Ashley Steckler (14:56):
You wanna use the language that they’ve already come to expect in your communication. And so the more you can clarify with them and ask them, they might not think about it as client onboarding. They might think about it as our initial consultation call,
Jennifer Whigham (15:13):
Just our first call. Yeah, we always use this example with estate planners too, in that clients often don’t know what an estate plan is, but they know what a will is or some other simplified language. And so when you’re asking them, how did your estate plan go? That might be confusing because an estate plan as many things, and that’s not the lingo that they’re used to. So I think that is, that’s really helpful. So let’s take a break for a second and then I wanna come back and talk about the different platforms that we’re going to use. So here’s a little bit from our sponsors.
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Jennifer Whigham (17:45):
And we are back again with Ashley Steckler, our product director, and we have been talking about client feedback and the different questions you can ask and how you can ask them. And so we are in the nitty gritty of the actual survey now. So I wanna give you an example question and you can tell me, you can work this with me. So say that my question is, during the consultation, were your expectations met? I’m asking this to the client, tell me how I can ask that in a way that will get the answer that I want.
Ashley Steckler (18:16):
So during the consultation, were your expectations met? This is kind of where the easy ask comes in. You can use a scale of one to five, which means, and of course you’d have to identify this for the client. Yes. Mostly, somewhat, not many or no. And so you can kind of get that frame of, for the most part, my expectations were met or no, during consultation, not many of my expectations were met. That will allow you to one, capture data. That’s an easy ask. So if they abandon the survey, you already have that. Yeah. And two, you have their mind in a place where they’re now thinking about expectations that they had during the consultation with you. Your next question can get further into asking those specifics. And one thing, I mean, if you’re thinking about, let’s go back to the beginning and we’re thinking about what it is that we actually wanna know. If I wanna know if our office is making people feel our values, if we have an office in a law firm around comfort, compassion, and maybe we’re trying to take our consultation calls from 45 minutes to 15, are we still aligning with that care, compassion, thoughtfulness, warmth that maybe we want our office to elicit? Yeah, we could ask in a few words, describe how you felt before and after the initial call because clients might say it felt rushed.
Jennifer Whigham (20:02):
Would you, in these instances, cuz you often see how in different articles I read, it’s hard for people to name their feelings. Would it be helpful to give them examples of feelings? Is there a way to do that without leading them into the feelings?
Ashley Steckler (20:18):
That’s always kind of tricky because if we name five different feelings, they might be feeling they’ll immediately say, yeah, that one. But if you’re working through value aligning, company, branding, interpersonal communication, fitting the office environment that you’re wanting to create, you might wanna let them lead with naming their feelings. And so it’s kind of that balance.
Jennifer Whigham (20:48):
Yeah, that makes sense because that is something you and I talked about with the lobster surveys is how do I give examples of what the answer might be without feeding somebody the answer? Is there some amazing tip or trick to figure that out, or is it just
Ashley Steckler (21:07):
Yeah, so you might ask during the consultation, were your expectations met? Give them a one to five. And then you might say, what were your expectations and how could we have met or exceeded those expectations?
Jennifer Whigham (21:23):
Oh, I like that. So it’s kind of setting that up for them. What were you thinking in the beginning? What did you think at the end? And did those two match up?
Ashley Steckler (21:32):
Yeah. Cuz people might think, oh, I went into the consultation having three questions and I didn’t think you’d actually give me clarity on those, but you did. And so that’s why I started working with you. Yeah,
Jennifer Whigham (21:46):
I like that too.
Ashley Steckler (21:47):
We don’t necessarily have to have people naming their feelings in order to get the information that we wanna have at the end.
Jennifer Whigham (21:54):
We love feelings though. We love when people name their feelings.
Ashley Steckler (21:56):
We do. We should talk about it more.
Jennifer Whigham (21:58):
We should. What do you think of a lot of surveys end with, is there anything else we should know or have that famous, what did I not ask that we should have asked? Is that a good idea to have at the end of a survey like that?
Ashley Steckler (22:12):
Yeah, absolutely. Because something that we asked may have someone thinking about something else. Yes, my expectations were met during our initial call, but toward the end it felt to me maybe I asked a question and there was too much of a delay. And so they might wanna add that at the end. And it’s not necessarily what you started out with at the beginning of seeking the feedback maybe wasn’t the thing that you identified you wanted to know, but is still very important also, sometimes people see this request and think, oh yeah, there’s one thing that I wanted to let them know. I might as well take the two minutes to do it. Yes. If we’ve guided them another way, they’re going to be left without their expectations being met. Yes. Even around this survey.
Jennifer Whigham (23:05):
Yeah. Oh, that’s interesting too, is kind of it’s expectations upon expectations. Turtles all the way down of,
Ashley Steckler (23:12):
Jennifer Whigham (23:12):
<laugh>, were your expectations even in the survey for sure. Beyond the questions, what do you think is the best way, and this might be different for people to send a survey like this to a client.
Ashley Steckler (23:25):
So I would go back to again, that idea of delivering to the client what it is they’re already familiar with. And so the questions that you ask in a survey, they should already be familiar with that language. The communication when you’re asking them for feedback or sending a survey is the same way. What kind of communication and interaction do they have with you up until this point? And what are they familiar with? Do you have a client portal? Do you talk with them on the phone? Do you have a lot of video calls? Are they used to coming into your office and exchanging that way? And so you wanna mirror that for them. You don’t want to, you’ve never sent them a text. Don’t send ’em a text. Right. If you have a client portal that facilitates texting between client and attorney, then yeah, they’re used to that. And it’s an easy one click. That’s the other thing that I would mention is make it accessible. And so it’s one click away if you’re sending it in a text, email, client portal, things like that. If you’re actually sending a survey, make it easy entry. So it’s one click. They don’t have to log into anything. They’re more likely to give you the feedback that way.
Jennifer Whigham (24:40):
And another thing that goes along with this too is the when I know in lab we always say, Hannah, don’t wait till the end of your relationship to send it because you’re not going to catch problems along the way that might be easily fixed. Is there a when that speaks to you in this sort of thing?
Ashley Steckler (25:00):
Yeah, you don’t wanna wait too long for sure. If you’re asking for something that’s in the middle of the case, don’t wait until the end of the case. We have that recency recall. If it’s something that happened not in the distant past, we’re more likely to give you really authentic feedback. Every time we have to recall an experience, the experience changes for us a little bit. And so if you close out their case and then you don’t ask them anything for another six months, they have all sorts of other things happening in their life that might impact the way that they reflect on the work that you did together in a way that’s not as authentic as if it would be if you asked them the same month. Right.
Jennifer Whigham (25:50):
Yeah. And what would you say to people maybe like me who are nervous about bothering people, being like, I don’t wanna break into their day with, what do you think of me or what do you think of our firm? And I know some people feel that as an interruption or an annoyance. Is there any way to reframe that?
Ashley Steckler (26:13):
Yeah, so I think reframing that to center the ask around your client, how will they benefit from giving you feedback? Is it going to improve your services? Is it going to make the value offer better? Is it going to make your service that you deliver easier for others? People like to help other people. Right? And so the ask shouldn’t be framed as a favor to you. It should show what is the value and why is it helpful to others from the perspective of service, even if it’s that you are asking for client feedback in the way of a Google review. Yeah. It’s not going to say, Hey, Jennifer’s great <laugh>, it’s going to say, Hey, Jennifer offers this service. That actually really helped me.
Jennifer Whigham (27:04):
Yeah. And one thing I liked when you and I were working on our lab surveys is we even tweaked the name of it instead of a feedback form. You had me rethink about it as a design your own experience. Yes, you were giving me feedback, but that’s really a one thing. But to call it help us design your experience really includes the client and the whole experience. And I loved that reframing and that made me feel better about not feeling like, oh, I’m just annoying them by constantly asking them what they think.
Ashley Steckler (27:34):
Yeah, for sure. Because the thing that you wanted to know when we set expectations at the beginning of what is it that you actually want to learn? It was curriculum, core structure offerings, right? Yeah. How can I make sure that the way we’ve structured our program is making the most impact and value add for our clients? And so yeah, you want them to be empowered to be able to create their own, right. Yeah,
Jennifer Whigham (28:02):
I love that. And in the vein of everything that we’ve talked about, as we wrap up here, is there anything else you would like to add? Ah, you like that I used the open-ended question that would be on the survey.
Ashley Steckler (28:13):
That is great. I love how we ended that way. Thank you. I do have one more thing that we didn’t get to.
Jennifer Whigham (28:18):
Yes, please go.
Ashley Steckler (28:20):
I may have said this in the beginning, but don’t make all questions mandatory. I think I weaved it somewhere in there. For me personally, when I’m filling something out and I see a bunch of red asterisks saying I have to, I’m less likely to get to the end because I’m going to let you know what it is that I want you to know. And if you pigeonhole me into answering every single thing, I’m less likely. And then the other thing is make sure that you’re thinking of your request being inclusive. And so if you can ask in multiple ways, if you can use multiple platforms, maybe people don’t like filling out forms, but they would be happy to give you a call or they would be happy to do a quick video or they would be right. Yeah. And so if you’d rather us give you a phone call, check this box.
Jennifer Whigham (29:10):
Yeah, I love that. Especially because you never see that because forms assume everybody learns this way, everybody processes this way, and so you’re not going to get the people that might process verbally. And I think that’s great. For sure. Well, thank you Ashley Steckler. I really appreciated this In our lab program. We have a whole course on client feedback, but I thought I would put together a little document for our podcast listeners that will include in the show notes here, that’ll give you a couple of example questions you can use. Just a little teased, but awesome. You’re great. I really appreciate your time with us. Thanks for being here. Thanks. It was fun.
The Lawyerist Podcast is edited by Britany Felix. Are you ready to implement the ideas we discuss here into your practice? Wondering what to do next? Here are your first two steps. First. If you haven’t read The Small Firm Roadmap yet, grab the first chapter for free at Lawyerist.com/book. Looking for help beyond the book? Let’s chat about whether our coaching communities, are right for you. Head to Lawyerist.com/community/lab to schedule a 10-minute call with our team to learn more. The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said in this podcast is legal advice for you.
Jennifer Whigham is the Community Director at Lawyerist where she coordinates Lawyerist Lab. She’s the behind-the-scenes stage manager of the program, where she facilitates Lab content, coaching staff, and events (including the annual LabCon conference). She is our team's Animal Ambassador and outside of Lawyerist, she’s the co-owner of a nonprofit music lesson studio.
Ashley Steckler is the Product Director at Lawyerist. She enjoys managing many of the projects at Lawyerist, as well as overseeing all of our technology efforts. She excels in training others and manages others with ease! She also teaches a sociology class at her local college.
Last updated December 22nd, 2022