If you are a regular reader, you know that I rarely learned about client service from observing what law firms were doing. I focused on what other service business leaders were doing. I  write frequently about the service I receive at Ritz Carlton hotels. You may also know I read  The New Gold Standard, the book about Ritz Carlton service by Joseph A. Michelli.

Long ago, Ritz Carlton decided they wanted to create “the new gold standard” for the hotel industry. They sought first to define what that meant and ever since they have tried to live and work to that standard every single day.

I urge you to buy the book and highlight the points and stories that resonate with you. Here is one of the many I like:

The Ritz Carlton, South Beach had many guests who boarded five motor coaches bound for the 2007 Super Bowl at Dolphin Stadium. During the game there was a steady rain. Back at the South Beach Ritz Carlton, the ladies and gentlemen brainstormed how to take care of their wet guests. The laundry team prepared 300 heated towels. The front office contacted the motor coach drivers and found out where they were parked. The guest services team loaded the towels into hotel cars and two food and beverage team members drove them to the waiting motor coaches at the stadium. After the game the guests found the warm folded towels with the familiar Ritz Carlton logo waiting for them in the bus seats. When the guests arrived back at the hotel they were greeted with umbrellas and led back to the warm, relaxed, and dry ambience with hot chocolate and coffee.

This is another story of Ritz Carlton employees anticipating a problem and offering a solution before their guests identified the problem. As you are reading the book, think about what you and your firm could do to become the new gold standard for lawyers and law firms. How would you define it? Better yet, how would your clients define it? How would make sure your lawyers and staff live and work to that standard each and every day?  I would love to hear your ideas.

 

On Friday I posted: Want Higher Profits Per Partner: Focus on Client Service.

Seems like a “no-brainer.” But,

  • When was the last time you talked about client service at a firm meeting
  • When was the last time you talked to your professional staff about client service.
  • When was the last time your firm did any training on client service?
  • When was the last time you talked to your clients about client service?

BTI Consulting Group surveys reveal that clients are not pleased with the service they receive from their law firms. In a report titled The Declining Client Satisfaction Antidote, BTI reported that 70% of clients will not recommend their law firm to others. According to the report, clients believe their law firms are:

  1. Not keeping up with changing client needs
  2. Doing a poor job of articulating and delivering value
  3. Poor communication between law firms and clients

That means any law firm or lawyer whose service is just slightly better will be unique. Just imagine what would happen to your business if clients gave your firm an A+ on client service?

Here are 10 easily implemented client service actions to improve service.

  1. Be more Responsive. Promptly respond to phone calls, email, and correspondence. Keep your client informed
  2. Be a team player. Figure out ways to help the in-house counsel or other client representative succeed.
  3. LISTEN to not only what is said, but how it is said and what is not said.
  4. Make personal visits. You will learn more things that will give you the business context of the legal matter. You might even bring home a new file.
  5. Bill with clarity, accuracy and based on value. Clients resent paying for inefficiency.
  6. Keep your team together. Clients do not like “breaking in” lawyers who do not know their business.
  7. Get feedback from clients on how you can improve your service and respond proactively, including preparing a client service policy.
  8. Make sure you understand the technology that is available to better serve your clients.
  9. Understand the clients’ industry, company and the needs of the individual client representatives.
  10. Seek to uncover potential client problems, opportunities and changes and develop solutions to handle them.
  11. Provide client service training your lawyers and staff and make client service an agenda item at every firm meeting.
  12. Read books on customer service from other industries. You might start with Joseph Michelli’s book about Ritz Carlton service titled:  The New Gold Standard.

Help me. Have I missed anything that you would add?