6.14.2005

Raindance Report:
What Law Firms Can Learn from 5-star Hotels

What relevant business lessons could a law firm learn from the likes of the Ritz-Carlton? Plenty if you're Leonardo Inghilleri of West Paces Consulting, an expert in service excellence with a background in the hospitality industry. Inghilleri's stripped-down view of business reduces it to its essentials — 4 common objectives that all businesses share:
- 100% client retention (goal)
- get more clients
- get more money from current clients
- improve efficiencies

His presentation was a convincing argument that service excellence is the way to differentiate a firm and achieve the above objectives. Assuming that the quality of legal advice and talent is basically equal across all top-tier firms, he asked, "How do you build a value proposition without falling into the trap of falling rates?" His answer: client service.

Under this assumption, the non-attorney service portion of the firm becomes essential in building the value proposition of service, but it is attorneys who are utlimately responsible for delivering client service. Improving attorney client service skills then becomes key to success. It's an HR thing. Having a basic business model in place where the values and beliefs are known and communicated to all employees and which drive all processes is also required. Practices common in hospitality industry, such as orienting new hires on their first day of employment in order to "imprint" the organization's values and beliefs on employees is the type of practices that can well serve law firms.

Achieving a service excellence culture is difficult and takes a lot of hard work and focus. Said Inghilleri, You can choose to be among the best, or you can be like everyone else."

Learn more: For more on Inghilleri and the service approach to legal services, see Building a Client-focused Law Firm on the Law Marketing Portal. Listen: Audio interview

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