Articles Posted in Client Service

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Thumbnail image for LP_Today_Logo-e1401945551625.pngPerhaps it is sad to think that customer or client service has gotten so bad of late that highlighting those that do it well should not be necessary, but it is. So many companies send us off to automated web and voice mail systems, force us to chat with folks half way around the globe that can’t speak the language too well and are flummoxed when forced off script, or in some cases show they simply don’t care. Where I live, Comcast’s monopoly means that no matter what happens I’m still a customer. When disgruntled with some experiences on Priceline, I simply took my business elsewhere. And in most cases, law firm clients can choose to do the same.

So when the service you receive is particularly personalized, attentive and caring, you practically go into shock. In serving as an issue editor for the Marketing-themed April 2016 edition of Law Practice Today (LPT), I contributed a feature story on Client Retention–It’s All in the Listening, which reminds us attorneys just how simple it can be to provide the type of client service that is both memorable and ensures repeat business. Taking some of my favorite personal recent examples–Kimpton’s Monaco chain for hotel travel, my long-time dentist Dr. Robert Marchinek, and two of the top Philadelphia restaurants in Bibou and Helm, I show how some simple listening and responsiveness goes much further than any sophisticated business development game plan can. It is all in the listening. See where you might fall in comparison to knowing the “personal” side of your clients.

With nearly 18 features and columns, the marketing issue of LPT is full of great ideas. In gathering articles for the issue, I thought about what I wanted to hear about and from whom. So I hit up some of the leading experts in the business to teach me something.

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LP_Today_Logo-e1401945551625.pngLeaders of many of the nation’s biggest and baddest law firms converged in New York City recently to discuss the rapidly changing legal landscape and how to adjust not only to survive, but thrive. The oft-repeated themes of innovation, differentiation and collaboration ruled the day.

My article in the August 2015 issue of Law Practice Today (LPT) serves as a recap of the full day inaugural Big Law Summit, put on by Bloomberg BNA. A who’s who of managing partners, in-house counsel and various industry experts discussed a wide range of issues ranging from innovating in a risk averse environment to adjusting to changing demands on the client side of big business that want more “value based arrangements.”

DLA Piper’s Roger Meltzer gave the global firm perspective. The program titled “Harnessing the Power of Collaboration,” could have been called “how origination dooms us all.” As the infamous quote goes, the first step is in admitting that you have a problem. I was drawn to the Big Law Summit because these law firms are my clients. The issues and answers that ruled the day reinforced those that I experience whenever I’m sitting with a Big Law managing partner or management committee. The conversations struck honestly at the heart of the issues that need to be addressed for major law firms to thrive in today’s global marketplace. Kudos to BNA for putting together a well-run and organized program on a subject matter that clearly had an audience.

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2014-july-august-cover107x139_jpg_imagep_107x141.pngIn the July/August 2014 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice magazine, I address the always-sensitive subject of age. In this case, it is about the marketing value of a law firms’ years. It is yet another subject that seems to present itself to me with clients a few times every year. How young is too young? And how old is too old? And is there value in touting age–and more specifically–an anniversary to clients and prospects?

Many law firms have taken anniversaries–literally as short as the one year mark and as long as 200 years–and looked to make them into marketable events. In some cases with good success; in others, it simply does not work. My column provides anecdotal examples of ways your firm may or may not commemorate a business birthday. When you look at all the possibilities, you might be surprised to find that some of the ideas and scenarios fit right into an upcoming anniversary of your law firms’ entry into the marketplace. We often look for excuses to celebrate. We often look for ways to manufacture firm “news.” Somewhere in the middle is the marketing of a law firms’ anniversary. If you are going to invest time, money and effort into such a commemoration, read my column first. It should serve as a guide to ways to ensure the highest level of business development return possible.

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opentable.jpgIn my monthly contribution to Web Marketing Today, I go off the reservation a bit (pun intended) in discussing Open Table, restaurants and customer service compared to professional services, law firms and client service. In Using Customer Reviews to Drive Sales, I discuss positive (and negative) customer service experiences and how the same concepts and data drive similar patterns for a law practice.

Fine dining is a centerpiece in the health and well-being of my marriage. Every Saturday night is date night, come hell or high water, and with it one of many great restaurants in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Regardless of how busy we get with work, travel and dealing with the kids, we take a few hours and a few bucks each weekend to partake in a nice dinner. It is our household’s major discretionary spend (and when you add wine and a babysitter, it adds up fast). Our Facebook followers know that each week they’ll be clued in on a new, hot or long-time favorite eatery for future consideration.

The chances of your restaurant being selected as a destination are heavily weighted by whether you show up on Open Table. I peruse the reservation options weeks in advance and look at my profile to remind myself where we are going over the next month or two. On the flip side, the participating restaurant gets to know a lot about me before I walk in the door–and that is where the possibilities of developing customer satisfaction and loyalty exist.

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rosh_hashana.jpgLaw firm clients know how much I love the annual holiday card agenda items each summer. You can’t hear the sarcasm in reading a blog post, but it is there. Topics of political correctness, hard copy versus electronic, mailing list and CRM issues equate to multiple meetings and numerous arguments. These conversations are debated and renewed each year. And the harsh reality is that those cards–delivered anywhere from mid-December to early January often get lost in the flood of well wishes we each send out and receive. To be frank, if you do or don’t send me one–I likely won’t recall it.

Of course, there are still cards that stand out from the crowd–for right and wrong reasons. I see some cards that I do feel are politically incorrect in the theme and message. Some firms have turned (successfully) to humor and use of e-cards–like Akin Gump and Manatt Phelps. I always receive an early Thanksgiving card from Bill Bowser and the employment law department at Young Conaway in Wilmington. It arrives before the others, thus stands out in the crowd. Infinite PR sends out a postcard with their holiday card allowing me to choose which charity they will make a donation to. That concept stands out as well. But it was a “first” for me that I enjoyed receiving via e-mail last week. While driving to Baltimore on Erev (the first night of) Rosh Hashana, I received an e-card from Fox Rothschild wishing me a happy (Jewish) New Year. I enjoyed the greeting and the thought, and was impressed by the uniqueness of a holiday e-card that was outside the scope of the winter holidays, Thanksgiving and what most people consider New Year’s (on January 1…5774, by the way, is the 2013 year on the Hebrew calendar). Differentiation and standing out…that is what it’s all about. L’shana tova right back at you.

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If it appears this month’s Web Marketing Today article on law firm apps is courtesy of the Department of Redundancy Department, I apologize. In the time I was writing it, I was also interviewed on the subject by two law publication journalists reacting to what must have seemed like an onslaught on law firm press releases touting the latest & greatest app. But I certainly saved some of my tips and examples for the loyal WMT audience.

In Corporate Secretary magazine, Abigail Caplovitz Field writes on “Law firms offer mobile apps to attract new clients.” Her article revolves around two US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) apps developed by Latham & Watkins and O’Melveny & Myers. In developing apps, the type of law firm and the related content runs the gamut from global mega firms to mom & pop shops.

Almost every attorney involved in the development of an app at a law firm will (accurately) tell you that the expectation is not that it will generate new clients, but more likely offer a branding or awareness tool that (hopefully) will be seen as an added-value item by clients, colleagues and the media.

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On an obviously slow news Monday, the Wall Street Journal front page touts “Law Firms Face Fresh Backlash Over Fees.” Jennifer Smith reports on the “widespread revolt” over big bills for “legal miscellany.” I can tell you that there is nothing new in this news from much of the last decade. But it does allow me the chance to once again discuss the issue of nickel and diming clients–often those that are paying seven figure invoices based simply on billable time.

Is this a marketing issue? It sure can be. While many in big law won’t change things anytime soon, small, midsize and boutique law firms recognize that this provides an opportunity to offer up a “differentiating factor” in selling its legal services. Often lost in price comparisons are the costs that go beyond the billable hour, depositions and filing fees. Those extra costs–planes, trains and automobiles; hotels, dinners, legal research and copying–can inflate the final tally by quite a lot. It is like looking at the $25/day rental car rate, only to find the actual cost to be around $70 after taxes and related charges.

All I know is that when I meet litigation friends in Philadelphia, often in town for a matter in federal court, we are usually getting together at the Four Seasons. Dining ranges from Morimoto to Buddakan; Morton’s to the Fountain. When you are working hard and traveling extensively, I’m not suggesting that we treat ourselves to anything less than first class accommodations. Unless, of course, the corporate counsel is staying at the Marriott. It is important to get a feel for the travel policies of your clients, and come in even or lower. There is nothing more damaging than outclassing the guy or gal that hired you during a trial. And when you get less work later, nobody will ever tell you why–the GC will just remember it when glancing at the final bill.