How Do You Take Your Coffee?

Offering a Cup of Coffee to Your Law Firm ClientsIt’s the little things that make your law firm’s clients happy:

  • A returned phone call or email even when you have nothing new to tell them.
  • Not nickel and diming them for every paperclip you use or copy that you make.
  • Not making them wait on hold or in a waiting area for you for a lengthy period of time.
  • Even just offering them a cup a coffee and knowing exactly how they take it.

Client service (aka Customer Service) is something that all law firms claim they are extraordinary at doing. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

How many times have you seen on a law firm website: “We value our clients.”

If you truly valued your clients, everything you do would be geared to showing them how much you valued them. This includes from the moment that they call the firm to the time their case is settled and beyond.

Nordstrom is legendary for their customer service. There is a mythical customer service story about Nordstrom that has been circulating for years:

A man came into the brand new Fairbanks, Alaska Nordstrom in 1975 with two tires. It seems he had bought the tires from the store that was there previously and wanted to return them, even though Nordstrom did not sell tires. Without any questions, the sales clerk handed him cash for the tires.

Now, whether this is rumor or fact, this story has been circulating about the store for many years. In fact, there is another story about Nordstrom’s celebrated customer service which was originally published in The Seattle Times on May 11, 2011 which has been verified as true:

“A woman in North Carolina recently lost the diamond from her wedding ring while trying on clothes at a Nordstrom store. A store security worker saw her crawling on the sales floor under the racks. He asked what was going on, then joined the search.

After they came up empty, the employee asked two building-services workers to join the search. They opened up the bags of the store’s vacuum cleaners, where they found the shiny diamond.”

The point of these stories is that Nordstrom has made customer service an actual “experience” and as a result have become well known for the way they take care of their customers.

Client service at your law firm should be an experience that begins the moment the phone rings. Not just for potential clients, but also for your referrals sources, opposing counsel, and current clients. If the person who answers your phone is not pleasant or doesn’t speak clearly, the experience is already off to a bad start. Train your receptionist and administrative assistants on what to say and make them practice being pleasant. Monitor them over time and ensure that each client contact by phone is a pleasing experience for your clients.

Make everyone feel welcome when they come to your office. Many years ago, when I worked in a different industry, I was invited to the home office of the company with which I was working. Imagine how I felt when I arrived to find a sign in the lobby saying: Welcome, Jaimie Field. This truly made me feel special.

While certain professional rules of conduct make doing this a bit harder (it could be a violation of attorney-client privilege), there are many ways you can make your clients, referral sources and prospects feel special. For example, the receptionist at the front desk could have a list of all of the visitors to the firm that day and the time they are to arrive. Imagine how wonderful it would feel if when a client, adversary or potential client walked up to the desk, the receptionist would look down at their sheet and say: “Hello, are you Mr. Doe to see Attorney John?” Instead of the typical “How may I help you?”

Imagine if when your assistant spoke to the person for the first time and took their information, they asked, “Do you drink coffee or tea? How do you take it?” And, when they arrived at the firm the receptionist could say: “Would you like coffee? Two sugars and milk, right? Or would you prefer something else?”

But client service is more than how they are greeted when the call or visit the firm. It is every interaction that you have with these people. It’s making sure that you have managed your time correctly so that they are not left waiting on hold or in the reception area. It’s personally sending someone to bring them to your office (if you don’t want to do it yourself). It’s about returning phone calls and emails to your clients – and if it’s only a short call or email, not billing them that 1/6 of an hour just to tell them there is no new developments.

A client comes to a firm because they have an issue that is disturbing them in some way. It doesn’t matter what area of law you practice. They are hiring you because you can solve a problem that they have. As a result, many of these people will want to know what is happening with their case on a regular basis. You may be surprised to know that many attorneys, if they have nothing new to report, or if they have bad news, will not respond to a client when they call or email.

Many people outside of the law do not understand how slow the wheels of justice sometimes turn. And while their case is not the only case that you are working on, it is the only case for them. They need proverbial hand-holding. They need to be reassured on a constant basis that you are taking care of them. This is where good client service sets you apart from other attorneys and law firms.

Client service means being able, from the moment you first meet or speak with them, to manage their expectations and create an experience that will make them want to come back again or refer other people to you. It means creating the “experience”.

These are people who, if treated well, regardless of the outcome of the case, could become great advocates of your firm and refer new business to you.


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Jaimie Field

About Jaimie Field

Jaimie B. Field, Esq. has been involved in the legal industry since the age of twelve. She worked at her grandfather’s law firm in NYC and her father’s firm in New Jersey during breaks from school. It was because of that experience she wanted to attend law school and become an attorney.

She enjoyed her years at Temple University School of Law in Philadelphia and was lucky to obtain a job upon graduation as an in-house associate for a start-up entertainment company owned by the Jackson Family. As it was a brand new company, there were very few people who were involved, she began being called upon to perform tasks other than those related to law, including business development, marketing and public relations. It was there she discovered a passion and natural talent for that aspect of her job. That began a more than 20 year odyssey to learn and apply all aspects of marketing to help companies grow.

But she missed the legal industry. She had never gotten far away from the law, always being called upon by the companies with which she worked to help with projects which utilized the skills and knowledge she learned in law school. In 2002, she opened Marketing Field, LLC, a marketing and business development consultancy devoted solely to law firms to help them grow by finding ethical solutions to getting new clients and marketing their firms.

In 2008, Marketing Field, LLC’s focus had changed. Jaimie had been training and coaching her clients to become Rainmakers, growing their books of business, and she began concentrating on that aspect of the business. She has an amazing talent for creating profitable perspectives. By listening to her clients and teaching them to do the same, she helps them develop strategies based on their individual personalities which open doors to growing their businesses ethically, even if they have already been shut.

In September, 2013 Marketing Field, LLC will be opening a new division devoted solely to Ethical Rainmaking Training. The new division, called The-Rain-Maker will offer seminars, group training and individual coaching to attorneys across the country.

Her seminars are always entertaining and informative and she has found a way to motivate attorneys when they can’t seem to motivate themselves. She truly believes: “Rainmakers Are Not Born, They Are Taught”.

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