The personal touch

VERY FEW PROFESSIONALS make the list of their clients' favorites, but the partner I was having lunch with did. He is an attorney at a major Chicago law firm where I had been the director of marketing for eight years. As was his style, he reached out to me and invited me to lunch just because wanted to see me. He had no other motive.

Over salads and club soda, he mentioned he had made the All-Star List published by BTI Consulting Group of Boston, which is composed of attorneys who were specifically named by clients for their outstanding service. The "BTI Survey of Client Service Performance: The Client Service A-Team ranks" more than 200 law firms based on client rankings of the 17 key activities that drive client relationships. It's an incredible honor.

It was easy to see why he made the list. I had always enjoyed working with him because of his ready smile, sincerity and appreciation of my efforts. Not only was he superb at his profession, be he also had an easy-going manner, asked me earnest questions about my work and listened to what I said. He even remembered the names of my family members. I enjoyed spending time with him.

I asked him why he thought he made the All-Star List. He responded immediately, "It's the personal touch. That's what clients want." He told me how he spent time with clients, went bicycling with some of them, returned their calls promptly and always made himself available no matter what the hour. I know that if I ever run a company that has complex environmental enforcement and litigation matters -- I'm calling him.

He also noted how his practice was thriving, he was billing tons of hours and he had all the business he could handle. This was no coincidence: if you as a professional can touch your clients personally and make an emotional connection, your clients will love you too. As they say, people like to do business with people they like.

He picked up the tab, telling me with a smile that it was my turn next time. Then we walked to an espresso bar and got lattes, which he also paid for. I'm certain he's just like this with his clients -- marketing at its best.

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