All I Really Need to Know About Client Service I Learned in a Restaurant

From Ulmer’s Real Estate Advisor Law Blog

By Scott Kadish

I am a commercial leasing attorney at a large firm. I have developed a decent stable of loyal clients, but not because I am the smartest attorney in the world. I like to think I’m smart, but I would be less than honest if I said that my success is due to being the smartest guy in the room. No, I believe my success is attributable to my client service. I know I have done my job when a client asks if they are my only client. So what is good service? It is not merely returning phone calls or emails. It is going above and beyond expectations. And who is the client? It should not just be the ultimate consumer, but everyone you work with and for. So it is not just the CEO of the company for whom you are providing services, it is the secretary or administrative assistant at the company, it is every other employee at that company with whom you may interact, and it is your superiors at your own company.

I waited tables to help pay for college. As a waiter, my income was 100% dependent on providing good service. And that meant not just bringing the meal, but like an attorney going above and beyond expectations. In many ways, everything I really need to know about client service I learned from being a waiter.

  1. Be present and alert. If a customer needs something, do it before they have to ask.
  2. Be timely. Never make a customer wait. Get them what they want quicker than they expect. Every customer should feel as though they are the only table you have.
  3. Be pleasant. Your attitude creates the customer’s experience. Nobody wants to deal with a grouch. And the biggest tips come from the customer who is demanding and unpleasant. If you can maintain a pleasant disposition and positive attitude, that customer may end up being your most satisfied loyal customer.
  4. Be deferential. Never talk down to a customer; make the customer feel good about themselves. Do not assume the customer can’t afford or appreciate your service. You never really know the opportunity presented. Being snobby though is one sure way to ensure you will never find out.
  5. Be neat. Nobody wants to be served by or interact with someone with bad hygiene.
  6. Be accountable. If a customer complains, say you’re sorry and fix it. Even when the complaint is unjustified. The customer is always right.