The Lost Art of Client Relationships and Customer Service

Two events recently highlighted the decline for customer service and relationships in the services industry–and particularly in mine, which is legal services. First, I was having lunch with one of my outside counsel. He was picking my brain as to why I retain certain law firms, and the effect of billing rates on who I retain. That got my mind jogging on a number of topics regarding my selection of outside counsel–and how billing rates are only one aspect of who I choose. See more below.

Second, I was at a hospital trying to get lab work done. The lab sign said they closed at 4:45pm. My watch and the main hospital clock said 4:43, but the door was locked anyways. I knocked and two individuals opened it. I was promptly told the lab was closed because it was past 4:45. When I pointed out that it wasn’t yet 4:45 at the time of our discussion, they pointed to their own wall clock, which was set nearly 10 minutes ahead. I needed this work done, but the clerk calmly said he had a lot to do before closing and couldn’t help me. I was given his manager’s phone number if I wanted to complain about it. He wasn’t disrespectful, but he obviously didn’t care.

The second incident crystallized some thoughts I had during that lunch. There is a lost art to building relationships, offering great service, and seeing yourself as a “partner” to your business clients–and it’s being lost in the law firm world much more quickly than it should–something I lamented to my outside counsel.

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