This past Sunday, I introduced my young nephews to the joys of Uber. Though initially skeptical — (What do you mean, Aunt Carrie – some random guy we don’t know is going to pick us up in a strange car?), by the end of the ride, their driver, Arnold won them over with free sodas and a discussion about politics. My nephews never saw the bill, so they don’t know how the cost of Uber compares to cab fare (same or cheaper), nor are they familiar enough with the area to know whether Arnold took them on the most direct route or for a proverbial ride. Yet, they’ll be forever recommending Uber to friends because of the personal experience.
Contrast the Uber experience with most law practices. When I visit other lawyers’ offices for personal business, I’m often shocked by how uncomfortable the experience is. Though meetings can run an hour, they rarely offer water, coffee or other beverages or have snacks available. I’ve never been asked whether I need to charge my phone or another device or if I’d like a pad of paper to take notes. And while perhaps a routine meeting doesn’t merit fanfare, the treatment is no different in atypical situations either. For example once during a visit to my mom’s estate planning attorney, we waited nearly three hours in a cold, windowless cubicle for the firm to make corrections to a trust document (that I’d caught), without anyone even checking in on us during that period.
For lawyers, tiny hospitalities can make a difference. Charging stations, beverages and snacks and other small amenities can transform an uncomfortable or simply middling experience into a memorable one that clients will recommend to others. Stocking up on snacks at a big box or warehouse store, or ordering online isn’t very expensive but yields great returns. Moreover, you can also take small stuff a step farther- for example, if you have a hyper-local practice, you could reach out to local coffee shops or cafes and ask whether they might supply you with their products at a discount in exchange for distributing information about those products to your clients. (Incidentally, the same approach works for Meet & Eats – see if a local restaurant might be willing to negotiate a deal in exchange for getting its name out to other lawyers who might host similar events).
It may seem as if these tiny touches glorify style over substance. But that’s not necessarily the case? Little amenities show attention to detail, which is a sign of a good lawyer. So perhaps it’s not such a bad thing when clients judge lawyers on these seemingly superficialities – because really, what else do they have to go on?
My nephews still can’t stop raving about Uber, and I’m guessing that their enthusiasm will have a few other kids asking their parents to try it out. For the price of a cup of coffee and a granola bar or bag of chips, you just might be able to generate the same word of mouth for your law firm.
What kinds of amenities does your office provide to clients? Has it made a difference? Please take a look at our Make Money Monday series and send any tips that have worked for you our way. If we post a tip, we’ll give you a link and a short profile at MyShingle.