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All clients are not born equal

All clients are not born equal

What is it like to be a first class, priority client in a law firm? How do they expect to be treated? John Chisholm writes.

What is it like to be a first class client in a modern law firm? What do they expect? John Chisholm writes

In these days of increasing competition most firms have client maintenance, client service, and client development programs for their major and most important clients. Most firms understand that the 80/20 Rule applies to them (80 per cent of their revenue comes from 20 per cent of their clients) although I am not sure how many firms understand the more critical 225/20 Rule (225 per cent of their profit comes from 20 per cent of their clients).

But what does it really mean to be a major or first class client of a law firm? Or are all clients of your firm first class clients? I suspect -and actually hope- not as the reality is all clients are not created equal and some clients are much more valuable to you than others so to treat them all as equals is not good for either your good clients nor good for your business.

If you do agree with me that all clients are not borne equal and that all clients value different things differently and that you do want to look after your good clients it might be smart to actually ask your first class clients what is important to them and how they would like to be treated and served.

What could I for instance expect to receive from my law firm if I was really a first class client (apart from larger invoices) that second or third class clients might not receive? (I also wonder if my law firm tell their other clients they are in fact not class clients?).

Assuming a law firm ever thought I was a first class client (unlikely) and asked me those questions I might respond along the lines that I would expect:

1. Everyone in the firm, from the Receptionist down, to know just how important I am;

2. That whoever I am dealing with knows my business and that I am not wasting time ( or worse money) over and over again explaining things yet again to another lawyer I am expected to deal with. I would expect my law firm to transfer its tacit knowledge freely around the firm;

3. I would have access to the best and brightest my firm has to offer;

4. I would have preferential treatment such that other clients will be “bumped” for me as I am given priority;

5. To be kept up to date with what is happening in the legal and business world that could affect me;

6. Some commercial introductions and invitations to key events;

7. The firm might ask my opinion and input on things that affect the firm;

8. No surprises-in service, timelines nor price;

9. To pay first class prices for first class service and advice;

10. Barista coffee

It goes without saying that any client-whether first class or third class- is entitled to assume a minimum level of service and technically correct legal advice but if you have clients paying you first class prices and your law firm cannot service their expectations and what they value, I am pretty sure these days they can find another firm that can.

John Chisholm is the director of John Chisholm Consulting.

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