I recently got back from Orlando for the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Annual Meeting 2012, which is the largest gathering of in-house counsel in the world. I co-presented a session entitled “ A Technology Primer for the Non-tech Lawyer” with Harold Federow and James Nelson, which received positive feedback. While certainly tiring, the rest of the event was packed with information and opportunities to network… well, at least for most people…
Leading up to the Annual Meeting, attendees are bombarded by mailings and emails about various networking events hosted by sponsors such as eDiscovery vendors, law firms, and local chapters. Some of those this year included an “Oktoberfest Celebration” with beer and pretzels; a cocktail reception at Disney’s Epcot Theme Park; and drinks in a private area at Universal Studios for the 100 years of film movie/fountain show. For some of these, spouses were invited to attend.
Who was not invited? Children. Now I completely understand why a bunch of lawyers with alcohol (read: drunk) wouldn’t want small children around, and normally, I would be the same way. But note—the Annual Meeting was in Orlando this year. (think: Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios Orlando) If someone was going to bring a spouse, chances are the whole family was going to tag along. My family did, as well as many others.
I contacted vendors about bringing my family. All of them said no… except two. And this is where service matters. The first event was an intimate, relaxing dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant hosted by Contoural and ZL Technologies. I emailed the organizer about my family. And I received a response from the CEO, Mark Diamond, saying that my family was more than welcome to join us. Yes, the CEO. I ended up not going because I had a 2 hour contract negotiation that got scheduled during dinner (after a full day of conference), and during that, I got a friendly call from Contoural wondering if I got lost. That’s good service. Actually, no, it’s spectacular service. I may not purchase their services for a long time, but I’ll remember them.
The second was an on-the-spot invitation. My toddler was running around the hotel Monday night, and even ran into the Oktoberfest event, creating unfriendly and unwelcoming stares from some attendees. After doing that contract negotiation, running around with a little girl screaming, I was tired and hungry. I went to the sports bar, thinking that maybe I could get a seat in the area where Deloitte wasn’t hosting their reception. I didn’t even have my ACC nametag on at that point. When they found out I was part of the conference, they let me in on the spot and said my daughter was more than welcome to go in. (she really enjoyed the grilled shrimp) Again, I may not purchase from Deloitte, and I know they are expensive, but that service goes a long way.
Yes, service matters. Not just for creating good impressions, but even after I purchase something, service matters a lot too. Food for thought for those who want my business in the future.