Perceived wisdom – service excellence comes from seeing through the eyes of the client
So I arrived at the first of GC Magazine's Dissenting Perspectives talks not really knowing what to expect.
The speaker – Susannah Schofield – looked interesting on paper: a senior level role at Royal Mail; her own gap analysis consultancy; a Government adviser; and, impressively, an OBE for services to small businesses, young people and women in business.
But, in a session plugged as focusing on delivering great client service, what was she going to teach a bunch of (predominantly in-house) lawyers?
Quite a lot, as it turned out.
While many of her pearls were naturally drawn from her own experience as a businesswoman, what struck me most was the value of applying B2C marketing and brand thinking to our roles as key advisers to the businesses we support. After all, whether you're trying to sell a product to a consumer, or sell your idea and advice to the board, the fundamental principles remain the same:
- know your market
- put yourself in their shoes
- build trust
- communicate a compelling proposition
- be memorable (ideally for something positive)
- believe in your idea; and
- speak the language of your audience
And it's through excelling at all of these that, as lawyers – both private practice and in-house – we can deliver excellent customer service.
Susannah talked about "the dress" – is it white and gold, or is it black and blue? For some one thing; for others, another. The point is that, as advisers, we need to understand what our ultimate client or customer perceives in order to be able to deliver the kind of service they expect. If we don't, then we're just shooting in the dark. Similarly – and Susannah used the excellent example of John Lewis here – your brand, whether product or personal, has to have substance, and vice versa. Without substance, your brand will wither; but without brand, no one will ever get to know the substance in the first place.
Key also to excellent client service, as Susannah extolled, is a relentless focus on improving the little things. In our next talk we'll hear from two Olympic gold medallists on applying this concept of marginal gains to business thinking.