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Should You Go 'Secret Shopping' at Your Own Law Firm?

By Mark Wilson, Esq. | Last updated on

You might think your firm's customer service is just peachy-keen, but you might be wrong. A recent FindLaw audit of 100 firms found that 73 of them didn't have any way to answer the phone after business hours. "Fine," you say, "but there's voicemail." That's true -- except that half of all the firms took more than 24 hours to respond, or simply never responded at all.

If you think you don't have a problem, that might be your first problem. So should you "secret shop" your own law firm to find out what your clients are really experiencing?

Secret Shopper

Before there was "Undercover Boss," there was secret shopping. Secret shoppers are employed by businesses to go into that business and report back on their experience. It's often done by large national chains trying to figure out how their various stores are really doing; for example, large supermarket chains employ secret shoppers to make sure that everything is stocked where it should be, that the place is clean, and so on.

The point of secret shopping is kind of like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle: If the boss is there, no one's going to mess up. But take the boss out of the equation and you can see how things really operate.

So how can this concept work for lawyers and law firms?

What Should Lawyers Secretly Shop For?

The first thing is making sure your telephone work flow is sufficient. Sure, the Internet is the next big craze that all the kids are talking about, but almost three-quarters of legal consumers would rather pick up the phone and talk to someone than fill out a Web form. So call your own law firm, or have someone else do it for you.

When someone picks up the phone, does that person identify the firm? Is she cordial? If no one picks up, is there voicemail? Realistically, no one has to be available 24/7, but voicemail needs to be answered -- and it needs to be answered within a day.

Check Out Your Website Too

When was the last time you looked at your firm's website? When was the last time you tried to use your firm's website? You should go to the website and use it like a prospective client would. Or, better yet, ask someone you to know to use the website like a prospective client and report back about the experience.

Pay a Visit

So either you show up in person, disguised with Groucho glasses, or you hire someone to pretend to be a prospective client to come to the office. The intake procedure is where a client should be made to feel comfortable and assuaged of any fear, but this might not be the case. It's worth at least making sure that your staff is doing things correctly. (This goes for the lawyers, too!)

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