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For in-house legal teams, a big challenge is finding the balance between doing great legal work and supporting the bigger goals of the organization. You deal with numerous rules, contracts, and issues daily while also trying to be a key part of your company's strategy.

So, how can your legal team not just survive but thrive in this demanding landscape?

Enter Net Promoter Score (NPS).

While it’s usually used by companies to measure how loyal their customers are, it can be the missing link that connects your legal team with your company's main goals.

Let's dive in and discover how this seemingly simple metric has the potential to revolutionize the way your legal department operates and aligns with your company's broader objectives.

What is Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a metric employed by Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) enterprises to assess client loyalty, and gauges  their likelihood to recommend the company's products to others on a scale of 0 to 10.

Example of Net Promoter Score question

NPS was first introduced by Fred Reichheld in 2003 through his Harvard Business Review article titled "The One Number You Need to Grow." 

One of the key reasons NPS gained prominence in the business world is its remarkable accuracy in predicting customer behavior. Numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between a high NPS and increased customer retention rates. 

Customers who are not only satisfied but enthusiastic enough to recommend a product or service are more likely to stay loyal, leading to long-term revenue growth.

NPS for in-house legal

Now, you might think, “How is this even relevant to my department? We work in-house; we don’t have customers?”

But wait, don’t you?

Aren’t other business teams, like Sales, Finance, HR, etc., dependent on you to close contracts or help them with legal insights? They are basically your customers! It’s up to you to build a connection with them.

There’s often a disconnect between how your team sees itself and how the broader organization perceives you.

You might think they're doing a stellar job, but your colleagues in other departments might hold a different perception. NPS acts as a bridge, revealing these differences and paving the way for constructive improvements.

Benefits of tracking NPS for in-house legal teams

Benefits of tracking NPS for in-house legal teams

#1 Valuable insights about your team’s performance

NPS surveys provide an avenue for you to gather crucial insights from your internal "customers" – the various business teams they serve. This feedback isn't just about receiving a numerical score; it's about the “why” behind the score. 

When someone rates your team’s performance a 7, what's driving that rating? Is it communication, response time, or something else entirely? NPS surveys dive into the details, offering actionable feedback.

Also read: Rethinking OKRs, KPIs, and Goals for In-House Legal Teams

#2 Quantifiable proof of excellence

NPS offers quantifiable evidence of your team's exceptional performance. An increasing score reflects not only satisfaction but also advocacy among your internal customers—the various business units you support.

Use this data to affirm that your legal department isn't merely meeting expectations but exceeding them. It's a testament to your team's dedication and effectiveness.

“You need to tell stakeholders what your team is up to. Otherwise, leverage tools such as CLMs to showcase how your team has contributed to closing deals effectively.”

~ Juliette Thirsk, Head of Legal, Peach Payments

Streamlining Legal at a FinTech Startup

When you present an increased NPS in your reports, you're not just sharing numbers; you're reinforcing trust with stakeholders. They see a legal department that actively seeks feedback, acts on it, and strives for continuous improvement.

Also read: 4 Strategies to demonstrate legal team value

#3 Internal branding and enhanced reputation

When your colleagues from other business units, your "customers," rate the legal team highly on the NPS scale, they become advocates. They actively endorse the legal department's services to their colleagues, much like satisfied customers recommending a product.

“Our CRO is a mature business leader and understands the value of legal. When I showed up at Seismic, I didn't have to convince him that legal deserves to be involved. He recognizes that my wins often happen in the dark, and recognizes a lot of these deals don't get done without us. That relationship has really trickled down throughout the entire organization to recognize Legal as a valuable player. Legal is a partner, not just an order taker.”

~ Celaena Powder, VP of Legal, Seismic
Navigating the Legal-Security-Privacy Relationship

This word-of-mouth advocacy isn't just a nicety; it's a potent force. It attracts attention from other teams, fostering trust and partnership. As these advocates champion the legal team's work, they're more likely to engage the legal department early in their processes, whether it's HR drafting policies or account executives structuring complex deals.

#4 Confidence boost

Sharing a rising NPS score with your legal team can be a morale booster. It reinforces the idea that their efforts are making a tangible impact on the organization's perception of the legal department.

Celebrate this achievement within your team meetings or through internal communications. Recognize and appreciate the hard work that led to this improvement.

#5  Alignment with the organization’s mission

The pressure on general counsel to optimize legal operations is undeniable. Organizations are increasingly seeking cost-efficiency, risk mitigation, and streamlined processes. However, the challenge lies in making informed decisions that genuinely enhance operations rather than resorting to knee-jerk reactions.

NPS is a data-driven tool that comes to the rescue to make decision-making seamless. Instead of making changes for the sake of appearing responsive to the pressure, NPS enables a methodical approach. You can identify specific pain points and address them strategically, ensuring that each adjustment aligns with the overarching mission of the legal department.

#6 Smooth technology adoption

Adopting technology without proper alignment can be a double-edged sword. It has the potential to become “zombie technology."

You might invest in software or tools with high expectations, only to realize that the promised benefits remain elusive. The reason? Technology alone cannot optimize operations; it must be integrated into workflows thoughtfully. This is where NPS plays a pivotal role in avoiding expensive missteps.

By grounding your technological investments in the feedback and insights gleaned from NPS surveys, you ensure that technology is employed for the right reasons and in the right manner. It becomes a strategic enabler rather than a standalone solution. NPS-driven data guides the decision to adopt technology and defines how it's integrated into your legal processes.

Also read: 4 Steps to using outside counsel to manage legal workload

NPS questions for internal evaluation of your legal team's performance

To effectively gauge your legal team's performance and gather valuable insights for internal evaluation, crafting the right NPS questions is crucial. Here are some NPS questions tailored for assessing your in-house legal department:

#1 On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our legal department's services to your colleagues within the organization?

This classic NPS question provides a baseline measure of overall satisfaction and the potential for advocacy among your internal clients.

#2 What aspects of our legal services do you believe we excel in?

This open-ended question encourages your internal clients to pinpoint specific strengths and areas where your legal team excels.

#3 What areas do you believe we could improve upon in our legal services?

Soliciting feedback on areas for improvement helps identify weaknesses and opportunities for growth within the legal department.

#4 How would you rate our communication and responsiveness in addressing your legal needs?

Effective communication and responsiveness are vital aspects of legal services. This question assesses how well your team meets these criteria.

#5 Have you encountered any challenges or obstacles while working with our legal department? If so, please describe them.

This question encourages candid feedback about challenges faced, allowing you to address specific issues that may be affecting client satisfaction.

#6 Do you feel that our legal department understands and aligns with the broader goals and mission of the organization?

Assessing alignment with the organization's mission ensures that your legal services are in sync with the company's overall objectives.

#7 How would you rate the clarity and transparency of our legal processes and documentation?

Clarity and transparency in legal processes and documentation are essential for effective collaboration. This question evaluates how well these aspects are perceived by clients.

#8 Have you experienced any delays in receiving legal support, and if so, can you provide details about the circumstances?

Identifying delays in legal support helps pinpoint potential bottlenecks in your department's workflow that need addressing.

#9 Would you say that our legal team's work has positively contributed to your department's or project's success?

This question gauges the tangible impact of your legal services on the success of internal projects or initiatives.

#10 Have you worked with external law firms or legal vendors in collaboration with our department? If yes, how would you rate their performance and their synergy with our team? - If external partners are involved, assess their performance and integration with your legal department to ensure a seamless collaboration.

#11 In your opinion, what can our legal department do differently to better serve your needs and the needs of the organization?

This open-ended question invites suggestions for improvement and provides valuable insights into specific actions that can enhance your legal team's performance.

#12 Overall, how satisfied are you with our legal department's services, and do you have any additional comments or feedback to share?

This comprehensive question allows for a final assessment of satisfaction and encourages clients to share any additional thoughts or comments.

Also read: Unveiling the Value of Legal in Unstable Environments

Best practices for achieving a high NPS in your in-house legal team

Best practices for achieving a high NPS in your in-house legal team

Achieving a high NPS in your in-house legal team isn't just about aiming for a top score; it's about fostering a culture of excellence, trust, and collaboration. 

#1 Prioritize exceptional customer service

  • Treat your internal business units as valued customers. Strive to provide them with exceptional service that surpasses  their expectations
“A legal team really builds long-standing and productive relationships with its sales team by helping them facilitate successful legal negotiations on a consistent basis. Don't forget about building relationships around customer success with your own internal clients as well.”

~ Adam Glick, ex-Head of Legal, Intercom
Cultivating Meaningful Connections for In-House Legal Success
  • Communicate effectively, respond promptly, and be proactive in addressing their legal needs. A satisfied customer is more likely to become an advocate

#2 Seek continuous feedback

  • Don't wait for quarterly or annual NPS surveys to gather feedback. Encourage open communication and regularly solicit input from your internal clients.
  • Create channels for feedback, such as suggestion boxes or regular check-ins, to ensure you're addressing issues in real-time.

#3 Act on feedback constructively

  • It's not enough to collect feedback; you must act on it. Analyze the feedback received through NPS surveys and other channels.
  • Use this feedback as a roadmap for improvement, identifying areas where you can enhance services and processes.

#4 Strategic alignment with organizational goals

  • Align your legal department's goals with the broader objectives of the organization. Ensure that your legal services contribute directly to the company's mission.
“While I have a seat at the table in all meetings with the upper management where key strategies are discussed, I encourage my team members to have 1:1 sessions with team leaders from other business units at their level. This way, they can contribute more to business operations, and the company will, consequently, be more legally compliant on a granular level.

By doing 1:1s with stakeholders, my team members not only get familiar with short-term and long-term business objectives but also take progressive steps toward accomplishing those objectives. The business grows, of course, but at the same time, my team members grow in confidence when they see how their contributions have bolstered the revenue stream of the company.”

~ Sandeep Chowdhury, Group GC, HCC Ltd.
Transforming the Legal Function at a Large Enterprise
  • Highlight this alignment when discussing your NPS results, emphasizing how your team's work is integral to achieving corporate success.

#5 Educate and promote advocacy

  • Educate your internal clients about the legal department's role and services. Help them understand how to navigate legal processes effectively.
‍“My advice is to understand which stakeholders you’ll have maximum friction with and then adjust and lean in. Try to align the legal roadmap with their goals. In case of conflicts, make sure you’re both seeing it as a partnership. Help them understand and navigate legal risks. Also, make sure they feel educated and comfortable in making decisions (or, if they’re not the decision maker, help them resolve and get to YES).”

~ Ryan Nier, General Counsel at Pinwheel
Putting Legal on the Map in a Hypergrowth Startup
  • Encourage satisfied clients to become advocates who promote the legal team's services to their peers and colleagues.
Also read: 5 Key Contract Reports to Share for C-level Review

Elevating internal customer service for legal success

NPS isn't just a metric; it's a strategic tool. It aligns your in-house legal team with the organization's goals, ensuring that every action is a step towards shared success.

As we conclude, consider this: Is your legal department fully leveraging the power of NPS to enhance customer service and align with your mission? If not, the time to explore its potential is now. Start by implementing NPS surveys, seeking feedback, and using the insights to fuel positive change. By doing so, you'll not only enhance your customer service but also strengthen your position as an indispensable partner in your organization's journey.

So, why wouldn't you care about customer service? The answer is clear: you should, and NPS is your compass to  the path to excellence.

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