How to find out what your clients want (so you can give it to them)


Attorneys ask a lot of questions. We ask to find out what our clients want and need so we can prepare the right documents. We ask questions through discovery, to avoid surprises, develop a strategy, and gain an advantage. Questions are how we tell a story in the courtroom or negotiate a settlement in the hallway. Questions are even how attorneys answer questions they don’t want to answer.

We’re good at asking questions.

We know when to ask open-ended questions and when to ask leading questions. We know how to question a hostile witness, an expert witness, and our own client. We know when a question is proper and when it is objectionable.

All day, every day, we ask questions in our work. Why don’t we do the same thing in our marketing?

Your clients and prospective clients can tell you what you need to do to grow your practice. They can tell you what you need to say to get them to say yes. They can tell you what you need to do (or not do) to make them happy. They can give you information you can use to improve every aspect of your practice.

All you have to do is ask.

You can ask about the specific handling of their case, what they liked best in your latest newsletter, or how they were treated when they called to make an appointment.

You can ask what topics they would like you to write about in your newsletter, whether they are interested in other services you’re thinking about offering, and whether they think your fees are too high, too low, or just right.

You can ask them what you did well for them, and where they felt you could have done better. You can ask which headline they like best, which blogs or magazines they regularly read, or whether they want paper copies mailed to them or if email is just fine.

You can ask in person or over the phone, through email or online surveys and polls. You can ask directly or, for more honest feedback, let them answer anonymously.

You can ask anything, and they will tell you, and what they tell you could be worth a fortune to you.

What if you have always assumed your clients wanted updates only when there is something important to report but in reality, most of them want to hear from you every month? What if you’ve been writing about how to avoid infringing on others’ patents but they want to know is how to minimize employee lawsuits? What if you have always assumed your receptionist is doing a good job but half of your clients think he is rude?

And guess what? People like being asked. They like giving their opinions and they will appreciate you for asking. It tells them that you care about what they think, and that you want to make them happy.

Make a list of questions to ask your clients and prospects and business contacts. Get in the habit of regularly asking people what they want, what they like, and what you can do to improve. And then do something even more important: listen.