JKS & Company presents its classic summer issue, which has generated much discussion and forwarded messages among Verbatim's readers in other years. It continues to remind outside counsel of the service clients expect all year round.
Before you take off for your summer vacation, make certain that you'll be accessible to your most significant clients. And while virtually everyone now carries a smartphone or BlackBerry, as the old saying goes, "You can run but you can't hide." And you shouldn't hide, because when something hits, your client has to deal with it right away, not when you conveniently return.
Here's what the CEO of a healthcare company said in a Strategic Client Interview, of two attorneys on vacation, one who made himself accessible, and one who didn't: "When he was going on vacation in Hawaii, he made himself available to us. We were able to call him at three o'clock in the morning there to be on a call with our Finance Committee. He was able to articulate the details of the purchase and knew the answers to the questions. So, we didn't have to face any delays.
"I had a similar need for our labor attorney from another firm when he went to Italy, but he wasn't available. It was a setback for us. If he weren't so good at what he does, I would have replaced him." Eventually the client did, and with the former attorney's firm.
A corporate attorney helped the CFO of a chemical company keep his deals on track from across the pond. "He received e-mail in Scotland," the CFO said. "He made sure that the information flow kept going when he was traveling. There was continuity 24 hours a day if I needed it."
Wherever you go
Like it or not, technology makes you accessible anywhere, so use it. "We've done deals with him from the top of Loon Mountain and Space Mountain," the CEO of a leasing corporation proudly said of his attorney in a Strategic Client Interview.
Be prepared to cut a vacation short
Don't be surprised if you have to cut a holiday weekend or vacation short, to accommodate a client's urgent legal needs. A past issue of The Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Law Blog" reported on its survey of law firm attorneys' stories of "ruined weekends and dashed vacations," and received numerous "tales of woe."
Clients, however, were not sympathetic, The Journal added. One client wrote: "In exchange for us paying those giant bills which support all of you, we expect an attitude that recognizes we are the client."
You'll learn more about the service your clients expect when you listen to them through Strategic Client Interviews.