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Early in my career, I was invited to a project kickoff meeting at a global chemical company. As the meeting started, a client executive looked at me and said “As our guest today, would you like to give the safety minute?”

I suggested when anyone was flying, upon deplaning, always have your hands in a ready position when someone near you opens the overhead compartment. There is no telling what may fall out or who may drop their luggage.

My client made a quick comment about how often people drop their luggage and thanked me — and we started the presentation.

Having performed a benchmarking assignment for a consortium of 12 large chemical companies, I had heard numerous safety minutes and learned a few things about it.

Safety is paramount at all 12 companies in the consortium. Each company started every formal meeting with a safety minute. The goal is to bring safety into everyday thinking, consciousness, and behavior.

Boosting Client Service

Client service is paramount to law firms. Much like the chemical companies use a safety minute to great effect, you can use a client service minute. Use it to weave client service thinking and conversations into the fabric of the firm.

I recommend starting every formal meeting with a client service minute. A simple example of client service, what it is, and how it played out in your experience. Our clients who introduced client service minutes see improved internal and external client service. Here are the ground rules for successful client service minutes to improve the client service culture at your firm:

  • No congratulations. Define another occasion to thank people for excellent client service – it will have more impact.
  • Make it short. Think of client service minutes as a series of ongoing reminders — the power of repetition beats the power of length.
  • Use plants for the first 5. Select people you know can do a good job.
  • Practice, review, and coach the first 5 to ensure you are targeting your objective. It’s easy to stray from the simple formula of one short experience.
  • Use new voices. Select rising stars, attorneys who show a strong client service instinct, and new individuals to the firm (which brings the bonus of better integration into the firm).
  • Set formal criteria for which meetings include a client service minute.
  • Share a client service minute at every meeting according to the criteria. Repetition is as powerful as knowledge.
  • Don’t stick to the law. Draw from personal experience — here is one of my more memorable experiences:

I purchased 30 of my wife’s favorite flowers in her favorite color for our 30th anniversary — ordering them well in advance. I picked them up and they were arranged beautifully. I decided to count the flowers and found only 27. I called the florist — they immediately sent a decorator with more than 20 flowers to my office who matched them and made sure the arrangement was awesome.

The point of all this is to bring client service into formal, firm-sanctioned conversations. They will quickly find their way into the informal conversations and then behavior. Try it for 6 months straight and smile while you watch the change slowly take hold.

Best in the market ahead.

The Mad Clientist

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