I met LMA friends after work at Del Frisco's last week in New York. It appeared that most of Manhattan was in the tight surroundings – we were elbow-to-elbow and four or five rows of people back from the bar. Patience and a booming voice were required.
That isn't the lesson for today's post, though.
We sat down for dinner and I wanted something lighter than traditional steakhouse fare. I asked our server if I could have a wedge salad cut up with a tenderloin steak sliced on top. (I convinced myself that this was indeed "daintier.") Our server paused and said, "Hmmm, I don't know if we can do that. I don't think the chef will do that." So I asked her to visit with him about it.
She never returned with a report from the kitchen, and when we next saw her, she placed a full wedge on one plate and a steak on another plate in front of me – with no reference to my original request. Here is how I saw this:
- The chef was too busy or too rigid to take two standard menu items and combine them to make a patron happy.
- The server had no power or authority to make me happy while she was taking our orders. I can think of countless restaurants where servers would say, "Of course! My pleasure."
- She forgot to report in about the unsatisfactory conversation in the kitchen, or was embarrassed that she had no power and that he was so unaccommodating. He, in fact, made her look bad and she wasn't happy about that. Our service progressively got worse.
- The food wasn't that great, especially for the price.
- I am now blogging about it.
Law firm leaders: Please embrace a client service culture to such a degree that each partner is empowered and accountable to keep clients happy. Please instill a culture of flexibility, and nimble thought and action on the spot. This proves that management respects and trusts both its lawyers and its clients. Please encourage your various departments who serve clients –especially finance and billing, IT and all the secretaries and assistants – to understand that their job is to serve clients, to help clients feel welcome and special (internal and external clients).
And if clients ask you to change how you do something (think: salad + steak = a steak salad), do what you can to adjust to their requirements and desires. The pay-off will be immediate satisfaction and ultimately, greater loyalty.