Monday, 27 October 2014

Service First

I travel quite a lot which means that I stay in a lot of different hotels, guest house, B&Bs etc. I've stayed in great places and in some less than great places, but the one thing that makes the difference - in hotels as in law firms and barristers' chambers - is service.

I had to stay for a couple of nights near Salisbury. I hadn't noticed that half term was starting (the joy of having an older child) nor that there was a festival of some sort in Salisbury and so all of my usual first choices for staying in a city I don't know were full. My wonderful part-time assistant booked me into a local B&B, telling me that it would be wonderful. I arrived, late and tired (and so, possibly, a little grumpy) to find that the room reminded me of my mother-in-law's home with lots of flowery decorations. The owner, however, was very friendly, making sure that I was comfortable, that the wifi worked, and then gave me a recommendation for dinner in a near-by pub.

The service at the pub was tremendous - friendly, efficient & interested. The next morning, however, was the real surprise. I wandered down to breakfast to be greeted by name by everyone working the breakfast shift. Not just me, either. All the staff knew the name of everyone staying - and the B&B had 15 rooms. Perhaps I need to up the quality of the places I stay, but this has happened only twice before - at the Mandarin in Hong Kong and Le Manor in Oxford. Bearing in mind that these are some of the finest hotels in the world, I was surprised and delighted to find the same level of service at a B&B in Wiltshire. They will get my business from now on.

My point is this. The room was fine, and the food was good - but what made the difference was service.

It is completely the same with your professional client. Yes, of course the quality of your legal understanding or advocacy is important - but that should be a given. What makes is difference is the quality of the service.

The important point to remember is that this applies to everyone in the firm, or everyone connected with chambers. Your receptionists, whoever first answers the phone, anyone who writes an email. Every single interaction is important, and so  you, as a solicitor or a barrister (whether or not you are formally involved with the management of the organisation) need to ensure that everyone knows it. Everyone is in the Customer Service department!

I have been known to moan about companies in my blog and to name them (well, usually it is only Greater Anglia trains...) and so it seems only fair that I should tell you the name of the B&B - it was the Cricket Field House. I heartily recommend them.

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