I was talking to a client the other day and we were discussing the implementation of yet another “client satisfaction survey”. This would not have been their first appeal to their clients for feedback regarding their level of service, but their third! And, yet one more opportunity for a set of potentially disappointing results ~ UGH! So, I begin to think. What could be causing this less than desirable level of client service and this history of low client satisfaction? And, more importantly why weren’t they able to turn this pattern around? Were they really paying attention to the results they were getting from the feedback in the client surveys? Were they even asking for the right feedback (i.e. asking the right questions to start with?) Were they acting on this feedback or simply checking this off their “to do list” that they conducted the surveys?
As we talked further, I determined that the managing partner and the firm administrator were both deeply bothered by the continued results of the surveys and wanted to implement a change, but the internal survey results with the team members reveled something truly surprising and unsettling. The external client service – which was pretty bad, according to their survey results, was far better than the internal “service”. There were some perceptions of structural problems, process and procedural deficiencies, poor leadership, stolen and often lack of praise all together, lack of support between practice areas, some in-fighting and back-stabbing and even some silos (where workers wouldn’t work with others at all).
So, I began my analysis and internal cultural restructuring. Here the adage – “the shoemaker’s children have no shoes” applies and gives a very accurate picture. There was a huge disparity between what they practiced and what they preached and an even greater disparity between what they gave to others and what they gave to “each other”. If the truth is known, if we don’t practice what we preach (or we don’t walk our own talk), we put our credibility at stake.