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Client satisfaction may rise with seniority of clients and distort company-wide impressions

Surveys find that richer people report higher satisfaction with life than poorer people. Data on this oft-found result comes from Eduardo Porter, The Price of Everything: Solving the mystery of why we pay what we do (Portfolio/Penguin 2011) at 62, 69. Analogously, it seems likely that higher-ranking managers give better scores to law departments because they receive more attention and service than lower-ranking managers. RHIP, even if those with the privileges of office are more knowledgeable and could be tougher graders.

Not surprisingly, law departments want senior executives to comment on the performance of the law department since they have the most say in budgets and headcount and scope of responsibility. All true, but a top-heavy response sample may bias scores toward the higher end as compared to a survey that equally plumbs satisfaction levels at lower levels of clients.

Worse still could be the introduction of a statistical device. I have previously suggested that law departments weight satisfaction scores to give more importance to respondents in the higher ranks of the company (See my post of May 31, 2005: client satisfaction scores and manager rank.). If those same executives, however, received better than average services from the department in the first place, a second step that weights their scores would further skew the results (See my post of March 25, 2005: weights given to evaluations.).

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