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December 20, 2006

Associate Reviews: "Dude, if you can't steal our clients, you're fired."

There are lots of suggestions out there on standards, guidelines and take-aways for year-end associate reviews. Two are (a) letting staff evaluate co-workers and partners on specific inter-office skills in writing, and (b) reviews of staff based on specific client service standards which ALL employees must buy into (i.e., pay increase for well done client service; hit the road, for the unwilling, clueless).

Here's another one--and it's been my firm's for over ten years. But first, expand your mind for a brief moment and pretend that you're NOT a lawyer, accountant, MD, broker, consultant, salesperson, retail clerk, Alaskan fly-fishing guide, or other alleged service-provider (it's most people that work in any job these days!), that you are passionate about what you do, that you love your clients and customers, and that you want more of that business and income stream.

Ready?

Every day, the client service by associate and paralegals should be good enough to permit those employees to actually steal any client, and take them to another law firm (use "transport" for the foregoing, if you need the PC professional services term), if they were to leave your shop tomorrow morning.

Period.

Fact: that's what we want at our firm, and that's what we tell associates.

If you are not, in effect, willing to go that far with your own employees in instituting and daily demanding client service, you are neither confident about client loyalty (not to mention employee loyalty) nor really serious about delivering outrageous client service to your clients. A true client service culture has to be that "extreme". So folks, let "them that can" whisk those clients out of your firm with a phone call or two; after all, that's only fair to the clients, if they so decide. If you find this idea preposterous, radical or just too disturbing, please think very hard about what you are really doing at your firm, and your real commitment, to build and lead a true client service culture.

At your shop, is "client service" just drinks-and-dinner b.s. for the clients, and website-and-brochure lip service for the public? Or is it real?

And wouldn't it be wonderful if the service were that good, and the atmosphere at your firm fun, lucrative and engaging enough that those employees just had to stay?

Posted by JD Hull at December 20, 2006 09:16 PM

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