Eyes Wide Open, Mouth Wide Open!
Recently, having admitted defeat in my attempt to avoid a smart phone (I liked my phone only being able to make calls and text) I purchased an Iphone. My wife recently dropped hers smashing the face of it, so as clumsy runs in the Jervis family, I thought I better protect mine immediately. I went to the new Apple Store at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol and was just blown away by the whole experience.
Of course everything Apple makes is gorgeous, that is a given, but they have done the same with their stores too. Everything looks perfect. The staff all wear the same coloured t shirts making it really easy to find help if you need it. However, I was on a mission and I carefully weaved my way through the store avoiding making eye contact. I knew I just needed a front cover and case for the back. After a couple of minutes of staring at the choices available, someone asked if they could help me. Not in a ‘frightening’ way, but in a calm and reassuring way. I explained what I was looking for and she instantly found better choices for me than I had managed to find myself. She knew all of the products available and after asking me what I was looking for went straight to one or two items and I was a very happy customer.
They offered to fit the protective cases to my phone (clearly realising I was a hopeless case) and did so quickly and efficiently whilst making polite conversation. (I say ‘they’ because by this time the first assistant had brought in the store ‘expert’ for fitting the cases. She fitted a clear plastic screen protector without any difficulty (and most importantly no bubbles either).
When it came to paying for my purchases I expected to be dragged or sent over to a till. What was I thinking? This is Apple, Apple do not follow the rules, they make them. She pulled a card machine from her hip holder and I paid without having to move. She went off to collect my receipt (it printed out underneath a table completely out of site) and popped it all in my bag for me.
Now I love marketing. I love sales. I had just been through the most perfect retail transaction I think I have ever had. So of course this led to me thinking about legal services. I accept that legal services and retail are different things to a point, but when it comes to the most important one, ie the customer/client there is no difference. They made my experience as painless and pleasurable as possible. Do you succeed in achieving this for your clients?
Here are some thoughts for your legal practice.
Many solicitors or staff fight the idea of a standard uniform (for front of house staff), but I say it looks great. I have seen several firms that have done it. If I am a client, isn’t it better that if I walk into a solicitors’ office, feeling anxious as this is the first time I have been to one, that I am greeted by someone that clearly works for the firm (I can tell as the firm name is on the blouse or shirt)?
It certainly works for me.
The Apple store was immaculate, spotless. Even the printers were out of site. I have walked into countless Solicitors offices where I have to fight my way past printers or photocopiers, or even worse sit next to one whilst waiting someone makes a thousand copies with me clearly in the way. Does this help the overall client experience? Certainly not.
There is a dentist that I have mentioned before. He charges thousands of pounds for each appointment. His waiting rooms are more like spa’s than a traditional dentist’s waiting room. Why has he done this, because he knows that a lot of his clients are scared, intimidated or frightened before they visit him? When they enter this room they instantly relax.
Don’t legal clients often feel anxious too? Does your reception area instantly relax them?
Knowledge Of Your Services
The Apple staff knew their products inside out. They found me exactly what I was looking for, better than I had managed to do so myself. I have heard many receptionists say “I am not sure that we offer that service” when I know that the firm does. Do you test your staff on the full range of services that you offer? You should, really!
What is the most important part about us as individuals? What makes us feel special when we hear it? Our name is unique. When people remember it when we do not expect them to doesn’t it stand out as a job well done?
Does your receptionist know the name of every client visiting your practice each day and welcome the clients by name as they arrive? Few firms have many appointments at the same time, but if you do, if the fee earner has met the client before it would be easy to describe their appearance; even easier to put a picture of the client next to the appointment. If you join a health club or even a cash and carry store your photograph is taken and put on your card. Why not have a photograph of the client on each file and on your case management system? It might remind every fee earner that each client is unique and deserves their best attention. It would certainly mean that your receptionist could greet every client by their name. Lovely!
Make The Rules Don’t Follow Them
Apple excel at this. They did not follow the rules when making the Iphone. Until the Iphone all mobiles had keypads. Not Apple, touch screen technology for them. A radical new design. No tills in their stores. So many better ways to do so many different things. What more can you do in your practice to make your client’s experience of your firm the best yet? Do not start from how you currently work, but from what the client wants.
Many solicitors discount ideas far too easily. They believe that if no-one else is doing it they should not either. Or they are scared of trying a new idea and getting it wrong. I know all of these ideas could make a substantial difference to your clients’ experience of your practice. Are you going to try some of them or push them to the side and keep doing everything the way that you always have done? If I was running a practice and I wanted to ensure that I always had as many new clients as I wanted to keep me busy, I know what I would do.
Author: Nick Jervis