7/22/09

Your Most Important Brand Ambassadors: Your Staff

Early in my working career, I used to fill in for the receptionist at lunch time. It fast became one of my very favorite duties. You see, the receptionist knows EVERYTHING. She knows who’s working the hardest, who’s taking long lunches, who’s meeting with clients, who’s ducking out early. And let’s not forget all the little “personal” calls she patches through. It was better than watching “All My Children”! During my short stint as a secretary, I knew more about my boss’s personal life than his wife did. I’m just sayin’ … Then when I worked in the expense reports team of a large firm’s account receivables department, I quickly found out who could be trusted and who couldn’t. You see, in a corporate setting, everyone sees everything. Maybe not in totality, but enough to judge the character of a person. And the staff is much smarter than most lawyers give them credit for being. Let’s not even talk about the prestige that staff may assume when working for a law firm. You may be the nicest lawyer on the planet but if your staff has imbued itself with some sort of attitude for being associated with a law firm and is throwing the law firm’s weight around, it just looks bad to outsiders. So remember, treat your staff like the brand ambassadors that they are. And if they don’t understand their importance in presenting a message of client service, make sure and make that message clear. Teach your receptionists, secretaries and paralegals to have a “client service” attitude. Conduct training classes, be a good role model, make it a part of their evaluation. When I hire anyone in our department I look for “client service” skills. I look for large good doses of humility, empathy and kindness. If these skills aren’t present, they usually don’t pass my litmus test. And as I always tell new managers: you have got to check your ego at the door. We are here to serve the lawyers and to serve the clients. Its not an easy job. But then again, that is why work is called “work”.

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