I am a potential new client. I walk into your office for the very first time. Who will give me the first impression of your firm’s commitment to client service? What impression will I take away?

Since I started coaching lawyers, I have walked into 100s of law firm offices across the United States and Canada. I quickly reach conclusions about each firm’s commitment to serving its clients by my experience with that firm’s professional staff. I bet your clients quickly reach the same conclusions.

I thought about some of those experiences this week when I read a Seth Godin blog: The buffet problem keeps getting worse. You must read it. Here is how it begins:

Here’s the thinking that leads just about every all-you-can-eat buffet to trend to mediocrity:

“Oh, don’t worry about how fresh the mashed potatoes are, after all, they’re free.”

You are not billing hourly for your staff. Does that mean their interaction with your clients is like the mediocre buffet items?

In the blog, Seth Godin describes how successful organizations often beat the competition, by turning the buffet problem upside down. They make sure their “mashed potatoes” are the best ever.

I believe turning the buffet problem upside down, begins with having a dedicated, service oriented team. Since February, 1997, I have been very blessed. That was when Joyce Flo began working with me. If you asked any of my clients when I practiced law, or the lawyers with whom I now work, they will tell you they love working with Joyce.

If you are a lawyer I have coached, you could share many examples. She knows each and every one of you. She recognizes your voice when you call. She knows the status of the project we are working on together. She has helped some of you create awesome slides for your presentations. When you visit us in Dallas, she makes sure you have a remarkable and fun experience here. Most importantly, she makes each of you feel like you are the most important lawyer with whom we work.

I can give you many examples where Joyce provided extraordinary service to my clients. One that stands out was the night in Virginia Beach when, long after I had gone to bed,  Joyce stayed up all night helping one of my best clients prepare their part of a mediation presentation for the next day. My client still talks about Joyce’s great work.

On another occasion I invited 10 client representatives and their spouses for a weekend here in Dallas. We played golf on Friday and went to the Cowboys game on Sunday. During the day on Saturday, the couples were on their own. Prior to their arrival, Joyce prepared a Dallas Travel Guide for each couple and included it with a “goodie-bag” in each of their rooms.  She made their weekend special.

Do you have someone like Joyce making your clients “Raving Fans?” If not, go out today and buy Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles and give it to your trusty assistant.

When I do programs on client service for law firms I frequently use examples from other businesses and I include my Client Service e-book as the handout materials.

My e-book is filled with stories about my own client service experiences, mostly in hotels. On page 17, you will find a discussion of my creating a “Raving Fans” program for the professional staff in each of our offices. If you are interested, I would be happy to share with you more details you can use to set up your own extraordinary service program.

If you have trouble connecting hotel staff service to law firm staff service, I have a story I have told many times.

When I joined Jenkens and Gilchrist, my client files and books were on rolling bookcases in the hallway outside my office. Late on a Friday afternoon, a young man named Mason came by my office. He said:

Mr. Parvin, I know you need to hit the ground running on Monday. How would it be if I come in tomorrow morning and help you get your files into filing cabinets and your books into the bookcases in your office?

I confess. I was stunned by this young man’s offer. Needless to say he made an impression on me.

If you want to get another great example, watch this video included a video about Johnny the Grocery Bagger.

As you will see, your staff contributes greatly to the experience your clients have when visiting your firm or working with your lawyers.

Just wondering, have you ever let your staff know how important they are to the success of your firm? Would creating a “Raving Fans” program for your staff raise their level of service to your clients?