As you likely know, I like to talk about client service and how it can make a huge difference in a world where legal expertise is assumed. What does extraordinary client service mean? How does it compare with service that is only average?
I find I learn about client service from my own experiences as a customer. You probably do also. Let me share with you two recent hotel experiences. Last week I stayed at a hotel in Las Vegas. I won’t identify it by name, but will tell you that it is on Flamingo near office buildings on Howard Hughes. Because it was originally built as a condominium project it does not have a casino and is small enough to only need one person working at the front desk.
After I finished my work I went back to the hotel. My return flight to Dallas was leaving at 6:00 am the next morning and in Las Vegas getting through security can take some time even that early. As a result I wanted to print my boarding pass at the hotel. When I asked the front desk clerk she said I could print it in the business center. I asked if there would be a charge and she said there would be. (I have a thing about paying to print my boarding pass. I plan to go through life and never pay to print my boarding pass.) There was no one other than me in the lobby so I asked if she could possibly print my boarding pass. She replied that she could not. I was quite surprised and told her to leave a note for the general manager letting him or her know that I will never stay at their hotel property again.
The next morning I woke up at 4:00 am and after getting ready I went downstairs to check out. There was a young man working at the front desk and he asked how I liked my stay. I told him everything was fine, except for his colleague refusing to print my boarding pass. He got my flight information and printed the boarding pass in less than one minute.
A couple of months ago I stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia. The firm for whom I was working was having their partner’s retreat there. When I checked in I asked how much more it would cost to stay on the Club Level and decided I would pay the extra money out of my pocket because I prefer eating there when I am by myself and I appreciate the service. When I reached the Club Level, I recognized the night manager from a previous stay. John greeted me: He said: “Welcome back Mr. Parvin, where have you been? I haven’t seen you here for about a year. Is Mrs. Parvin with you on this trip?” I was blown away that John either remembered me or within the very short time I was on the elevator he went into the computer to find out when I was last there and that my wife Nancy was with me. Later, John asked if I had any special requests. I had torn my pocket on my trousers when it got caught on my airline seat reclining tab during my flight. John took care of getting it repaired for me.
I am a loyal Ritz Carlton customer. I am willing to pay more to stay at Ritz Carlton hotels and I am willing to pay even more to stay on the Club Level. When I got home from this trip, I bought the book: “The New Gold Standard” by Joseph A. Michelli. I think I know from experience why Ritz Carlton service is extraordinary, but I want to better understand how they do it and how a law firm could set the new gold standard for client service.