Continuous improvement, process improvement, lean, six sigma, kaizen, and all of the other descriptors for changing to be more effective and efficient have the core value of providing the best possible customer service. Customers are external clients and also internal clients, for example users of the network are the clients of the IT department.
In law firms, it is pretty straight forward to be motivated to give excellent customer service to external clients. It may not always easy for everyone to consistently act on the motivation, but that is a separate issue. It is a bit more esoteric to connect the excellent external client customer service need to the service practices and methods of internal law firm departments. What are the motivating factors for IT (to use the easiest group to pick on) that resonate with the lawyer need to give excellent client service? How do we motivate the accounting department (to use the second easiest group to pick on) to provide service to their internal customers that result in excellent service to external clients?
I am reading an excellent book titled Leading at a Higher Level by Ken Blanchard (Blanchard Management Corporation publishing as FT Press, 2010). The book has some great takeaways including the concept that exceptional service starts with leaders serving their people at the highest level so that people on the front line can in turn serve their customers at the highest level – the concept of Legendary Service.
Blanchard’s legendary service concept consists of five basic elements:
I – Ideal Service: Consistently meeting or exceeding the customer’s needs on a day-to-day basis by acting on te belief that service is important.
C – Culture of service: Creating an environment that focuses on serving customers, both internal and external, at the highest level.
A – Attentiveness: Listening in a way that allows you to know your customers and their preferences.
R – Responsiveness: Demonstrating a genuine willingness to serve others by paying attention to and acting on their needs.
E – Empowerment: Sharing information and tools to help people meet customer needs or exceed customer expectations.
Blanchard goes on to note that the acronym I CARE resonates because great customer service hits people at an emotional level and creates a connection.
Leading at a Higher Level suggests that the key to fantastic customer service is fantastic leadership. The book has plenty of strategies to offer to move from concept to leadership actions that will make improvements. Leadership can happen everywhere.