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WMT: Is there commonality in marketing a law firm and a restaurant?

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.

What spurred on this topic in writing my WMT piece for March was an invitation to dinner at Estia Taverna, a restaurant opening near our home, which is an off-shoot of a favorite spot in Philadelphia, Estia, and before that the sister restaurant we often enjoyed in New York City, Avra.

My follow-up reviews on Open Table puts me as one of the 25 most prolific reviewers on the entire site. I use Open Table when traveling as well. Ironically, the places we frequent the most–Bibou and Le Cheri–from Pierre and Charlotte Calmels (perhaps the top chef/restaurateurs in Philly) don’t show up in most of my Open Table reviews (they use OT, but we end up locking in our reservations at the restaurant–never leaving either without the next one–and they know how to develop a following and loyalty through impeccable food and service).

I also juxtapose the positive–Estia Taverna, Bibou, the Phoenician in Scottsdale, the Four Seasons, Moore Brothers Wine Company among them–with the negative–my airline, which shall remain nameless, Priceline and dining establishments that failed to take advantage of the data sitting right there to cherry-pick. Read the piece and see if you can see where good client service for a lawyer overlaps with running a successful restaurant, hotel or similar establishment. The key takeaway is whether you take advantage of the data that exists (often through web-based sites and software) for your practice.

Fifty Great Local Web Marketing Ideas

If you do not subscribe to the free Web Marketing Today newsletter, they are providing a complimentary e-book on 50 Great Local Web Marketing Ideas to all new subscribers. I’ve contributed two of the 50 (and learned a few tricks from my fellow contributors as well).