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December 27, 2007

Redux: "Ease-of-Use Awards" For Law Firms?

What if the services sector competed for clients on the basis of "ease-of-use"?

Develop and apply ease-of-use concepts to pure services? Our clients' services? Our services?

Sure, and why not?

Consider for a moment just products. Last year, Cincinnati-based The Folgers Coffee Company, a P&G company with extensive operations in New Orleans, was awarded an Ease-of-Use Commendation by the Arthritis Foundation for its AromaSeal™ Canister. If you're a Folgers® drinker, you notice that Folgers® added an easy-to-peel tin freshness seal (no need for a can-opener), a new "snap-tight" lid and even a grip on its plastic red can. The great companies many of us represent do

spend money and expertise on making their goods, equipment and products usable. Think about your car, your luggage, your TV remote (well, strike that one), your watch and even grips on household tools. Think about Apple, Dell and Microsoft. Each year they think through your experience with their products and try to make it better. Continuous improvement models for "things." Folgers® did it for coffee cans. IBM and CISCO have ease-of-use programs for the products they sell.

Develop and apply ease-of-use concepts to pure services? Our clients' services? Our services? Sure, why not? It's probably coming anyway, even while it will be infinitely harder to do for services than for products. WAC? has noted before that even corporate clients that sell goods see themselves as selling solutions and not products. In 2004, services sold alone or as support features to the sale of goods and products accounted for over 65% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the US, 50% of the United Kingdom's GDP and 90% of Hong Kong's. Even products sold by IBM and CISCO, now chiefly service companies, are part of a services-products mix in which the services component is the main event.

Law firms, of course, have always sold services. And we are a small but powerful engine in the growth of the services sector. We strategize with and guide big clients every day. While that's all going on--day in and day out--what is it like for the client to work with you and yours? Are clients experiencing a team--or hearing and seeing isolated acts by talented but soul-less techies? Do you make reports and communications short, easy and to the point? Who gets copied openly so clients don't have to guess about who knows what? Is it fun (yeah, we just said "fun") to work with your firm? How are your logistics for client meetings, travel and lodging? Do you make life easier? Or harder? Are you accessible 24/7? In short, aside from the technical aspects of your service (i.e., the client "is safe"), do your clients "feel safe"?

What if law firms--or any other service provider for that matter--"thought through," applied and constantly improved the delivery of our services and how clients really experience them?

And then competed on it...?

JDH/HHO April 2007

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at December 27, 2007 12:33 AM

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