Customer satisfaction: the 4 S rule
Useful tips from W. Churchill, G. Orwell, Amazon and ……
𝙆𝙚𝙚𝙥 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙖𝙙𝙫𝙞𝙘𝙚 𝙎𝙝𝙤𝙧𝙩, 𝙎𝙞𝙢𝙥𝙡𝙚, 𝙎𝙪𝙗𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙎𝙥𝙚𝙚𝙙
A research conducted in 2017 by LexisNexis UK evidenced a significant disconnect between law firms and their clients. The research found three main concerns expressed by clients:
(i) Clients expect solutions and 𝗮𝗱𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 “𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗲𝗻𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵”, 𝗱𝗲𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝗮 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗲𝗻𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺 𝘁𝗼 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝗰𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗰𝗸𝗹𝘆 . Instead, they receive good diagnoses but not commercial solutions;
(ii) the value received is not commensurate with the cost incurred and time taken (client are looking for advice that is “good enough” rather than the “gold standard”)
(iii) lack of certainty and predictibility in cost and time that they seek.
What clients want?
My focus is particularly on the first complaint, i.e. how lawyers can deliver:
- a “good enough” advice
- in a timely manner
- in a format that enables them to make decisions quickly
When I talk to my Team I always stress that, in fact, there are not too many rules to be followed to keep clients satisfied with your service and meet their expectations. I call this
𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝟰 𝗦 𝗿𝘂𝗹𝗲: 𝗞𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗮𝗱𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗦𝗵𝗼𝗿𝘁, 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗲, 𝗦𝘂𝗯𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗦𝗽𝗲𝗲𝗱
1. SHORT: brevity is the soul of wit (William Shakespeare)
Very useful tips on being concise can be found in a famous Memorandum titled “Brevity”, that Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent to his staff on August 9, 1940.
Mr. Churchill outlined “ 𝘄𝗲 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱 𝗮 𝗺𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗽𝗮𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘀. 𝗡𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗳𝗮𝗿 𝘁𝗼𝗼 𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗴. 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘄𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲, 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗲 𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗴𝘆 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗶𝗻 𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗽𝗼𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 ”.
In order to achieve brevity, he was “suggesting” the following guidelines:
(i) Set out the main points in a series of short, crisp paragraphs;
(ii) Detailed analysis, statistics, etc. should be set out in an Appendix;
(iii) If possible, instead of a “full-dress Report”, submit a Memorandung consisting of headings only;
(iv) Avoid using “wooly phrases” that can be replaced by short expressive phrases, even if it is conversational.
Mr. Churchill concludes that “𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗶𝗽𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘀𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝗽𝗼𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗶𝘀𝗲𝗹𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝗶𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗰𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴”.
2. SIMPLE: simplicity is the ultimate sophistication (Leonardo da Vinci)
Useful tips on how to keep your writing simple are It the famous Orwell’s 6 Rules for writing (From “Politics and the English Language”, 1946)
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
3. SUBSTANTIVE: I did not have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one istead (Mark Twain)
Be specific, get to the point! A useful advice to meet this goal, can be found in an Amazon 2018 internal memorandum . The basic rules suggested are:
1.Use fewer than 30 words per sentence.
2. Replace adjectives with data
3. Use the “So what?” test: If the reader can’t immediately tell what you want them to do — make a decision, take an action, respond by a certain time, etc. — they’re left thinking, “So what?”
4. Avoid jargon, acronyms, and buzzwords
5. Use subject-verb-object sentences.
4. SPEED: fast is fine, but accuracy is everything (Wyatt Earp)
Clients expect answers to be delivered timely, this generally means as of yesterday! But how can you combine 𝗦𝗽𝗲𝗲𝗱 𝘃𝘀 𝗔𝗰𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘆 and infuse this culture in your Team?
These are my tips:
- Training: your associates regularly also to perform different tasks, so that you can move them to different departments in case of need;
- Delegation: structure your team efficiently, with a clear chain of command and delegation of tasks;
- Supervision: ensure that junior associates are constantly supervised but in an efficient way, so that to avoid any distruptions or delays in the workflow;
- Motivation: make sure that your team is adequately motivated to adopt any novelty and that this is infused into the company’s culture;
- Technology: invest and stay up to date in any new technologies which can improve productivity, communication and management.
LAST TIP: if you have nothing else to say, say nothing!
Let me finish my article with an anedocte about the word ‘LACONIC’, which is generally defined as “using very few words.” An individual who speaks or writes in a laconic manner does so concisely and succinctly, with a brevity that often borders on bluntness. Laconicism is perhaps best epitomised by the short but sharp phrase ‘less is more.’
The word itself is derived from the region of southern Greece known in ancient times as Laconia. It was in this region that the city-state of Sparta was located.
Among the most notable examples of the Spartan’s verbal frugality involved Philip II of Macedon, at the time the most powerful man in the Greek world. He had invaded southern Greece and had received the submission of several other southern city-states. He sent a message to Sparta stating “ 🅸🅵 𝑰 𝒂𝒕𝒕𝒂𝒄𝒌 𝒚𝒐𝒖, 𝑰 𝒔𝒉𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒃𝒖𝒓𝒏 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒇𝒂𝒓𝒎𝒔, 𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒍𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒑𝒆𝒐𝒑𝒍𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒓𝒂𝒛𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒄𝒊𝒕𝒚.”
In what must surely rank as one of the most succinct diplomatic messages of all time, the Spartans responded with only one word: “🅸🅵”