“Net promoters” and “detractors” as an alternative to batteries of client-satisfaction questions

Consider a charming idea, one that sweeps away lists of questions asking about attributes of a law department, which lists are lengthened with invitations to clients to give examples and explain themselves. Replace all that with one simple question: “On a scale of zero to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend use of this law department to your colleagues?” BusinessWeek, Iss. 3969, Jan. 30, 2006 at 94. With customers, “promoters” give responses of 9 or 10, whereas “detractors” give scores of 6 or below, and very different behaviors and loyalties follow.

To use this test for a law department’s clients, a couple of immediate objections should be set aside. Many clients have no choice but to go to the in-house entourage, but let’s imagine that they can avoid doing so as long as possible, sneak in some legal advice from their own staff who have legal training, or plump for outside counsel. The familiarity and dominance of surveys would be the second block (see my Law Departments and Client Satisfaction, Corp. Legal Times 2002); here, the response is that if something better comes along, consider it.

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