I wrote a series on Signal and Noise here, here and here. The problem clients confront is that most law firms look and sound alike. When we started Valorem in 2008, no one was talking about alternative fees, no one was offering alternative fees and the world, by and large, thought we were crazy. Now, of course, everybody claims they offer non-hourly billing. The only problem, really a minor one, is that few of the firms making such claim can explain how their proposed fee differs from an estimate of what they would charge on an hourly basis. The challenge for clients, which is specifically address in the second and third post, is about how to differentiate between true signal and mere noise.
I recently received the January/February issue of Law Practice. The cover featured two stories on client service, including the aptly-titled Let Client Service Be Our Watchword. It appears that more is being said and written about the importance of client service than every before, which means that every law firm will start talking about how important
[fill in blank] client service is to them. They won’t actually change anything, they will simply talk about the importance of [fill in blank] client service so they cannot be immediately identified as not making [fill in blank] client service a priority for the firm.
The hard truth is that client service is not a policy you adopt, or a marketing department gimmick. It is part of a person’s DNA, a product of extensive training and an institutional commitment that few firms know how to, let alone are willing, to make. Clients deserve more than noise. What and how you do it should be something that can be shown. What are the design elements that show that client needs and desires were the drivers of the design?
There are a number of questions like this a client should ask to separate signal from the noise, and I’ll address those questions in a future post.