San Francisco (March 7, 2003) -- Looking through your clients' eyes should be the key driver for creating excellent customer service, according to a former Disney executive.

"Looking at everything you do through the lens of the client helps build intense loyalty," said Dennis Snow, a former Disney manager and customer service consultant, during a keynote speech at the Legal Marketing Association conference here. "Most organizations don't."

At Disney, for instance, every employee from management on down is charged with picking up any piece of trash they see, and offering to take family photos so that everyone can be in the picture.

"There are little things you can do on a consistent basis that will dazzle your clients," he noted.

He also laid out a hierarchy of customer expectations that can help firms succeed. On the lowest levels are accuracy and availability. Clients demand that work you provide for them is accurate, and need to know that you're available when they need you.

The next level up is partnership -- "Do I feel you really care about me, or am I one in 1,000?" The highest level to attain is advice -- teaching them something they didn't know before.

Snow also urged firms to recognize that every time a client or prospect comes into contact with your organization, they're learning something about you -- whether you realize it or not. So if the receptionist is reading a book, or an employee's desk is filled with tons of paperwork, don't think it's going unnoticed. "Everything speaks," Snow said. "Everything your customer comes into contact with is saying something about your firm. Is it saying what you want it to say?"

He also noted that firm leaders are being watched much more closely by their employees than they probably imagine. So that if the firm's handbook says employees should act in one manner, but they see the managing partner acting differently, they'll pay more attention to that.

-- Tracey Miller-Segarra

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