Client satisfaction surveys: frequency, source of clients, questions and use (Johnson & Johnson)

Phil Crowley, a senior lawyer with Johnson & Johnson, describes in ACC Docket, April 2007 at 96, some aspects of how his law department determines the value it delivers to clients (See my post of Sept. 17, 2005 on client perceptions of value and satisfaction surveys; and March 18, 2005 about the Cargill needs assessment.). The department surveys its client base. Each year “every lawyer is asked to provide a list of eight to 12 people who can be surveyed about his or her performance over the year, focusing on issues like the ability to provide relevant advice, ethics, leadership, and a number of other factors.” The results of those surveys “get cranked into individual evaluations.”

Crowley packs a number of management decisions into those sentences. The law department conducts its survey annually, instead of at longer intervals or more frequently (See my post of Nov. 20, 2006 on Aviva’s two-year timing; and March 16, 2006 on frequent surveys.). The lawyers pick the survey invitees, instead of a system that surveys clients by level (See my post of Dec. 3, 2006 on selection bias.). The questions he lists go to very subjective characteristics like ethics and leadership, instead of the more common questions about timeliness, accessibility, knowledge of the business – which may well be on the survey also (See my post of Nov. 21, 2005 on unusual questions.). The survey asks not about the law department as a whole but about individual attorneys. Since J&J has around 240 lawyers the survey is a major undertaking (See my post of Nov. 30, 2005 about entire departments or portions.). As the final point, management of the department uses the survey results for each individual lawyer to feed into that lawyer’s compensation decisions.

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