Skip to main content

Why “Close Door” buttons don’t work.

Law Firm Client Service.

Did you know that in most elevators, the “Close Door” buttons don’t work?  Some of them may have worked when originally installed but were disabled over time. Other buttons were created simply to give you the feeling of control over your environment, which apparently is helpful for claustrophobic elevator passengers.

But you know what?  The buttons DO work in Four Seasons Hotels.  Every single one of them.

I love the Four Seasons — they do all the little things right.

I love how after you check in, the smiling front desk clerks come out from behind the counter and personally escort you to the elevator and press the “Up” button for you.

It’s not like I couldn’t find the elevator myself if they’d simply pointed, like they do in most hotels.  But at Four Seasons Hotels they go the extra mile, which immediately sets the tone for your stay.  And this puts the guests on their best behavior as well. It’s hard to be rude when everyone around you is so pleasant.  It’s harder to litter at Disney World.

In a recent hotel visit at a 4-star hotel, the desk clerk checking me in told me the elevator was “on the right.”  It was on HER right, which was MY left. (“Oh yeah, sorry, I meant MY right, your left.”) She checks in people all day. It’s her job.  That’s just poor (or lack of) training.

The point is, the Four Seasons Hotels do all the little service-oriented things SO well that it’s a pleasure to stay there. Business travel can be inconvenient, but I know it won’t be when I stay at  a Four Seasons.  All the little grating annoyances won’t exist. Sure, that requires more staffing and training.  It’s more expensive, and they pass along that expense to their customers.  But it’s worth it.

The Big Question:

What would that level of service look like at your firm?

If your firm wanted to become “The Four Seasons of Law Firms tm” what would you need to do? How would you behave? What would your staff need to do differently? What additional training and resources would be required?

St Louis’s 70-lawyer Sandberg Phoenix was consistently getting A+ reviews from its clients, even though they tend to handle stressful litigation cases. So we developed an advertising campaign and website highlighting their remarkable client service.

Chicago’s remarkable 40-lawyer Laner Muchin returns every phone call and email within two hours, every single time, even though it required significant in-house training and the purchase of additional technology. That’s an amazing statistic.

In other words, it’s possible to provide superlative service, even in a law firm.  It’s just very hard to enforce rigorous service standards within professional services firms.

So, is your law firm a Four Seasons?

Or the Doubletree Club in Houston, TX?

And don’t get me started about pedestrian cross-walk buttons or office thermostats….