Remembering Ed Koch, beloved former mayor of New York City

Altman Weil recently released their Annual Chief Legal Officer Survey. Dan DiLucchio of Altman Weil had a most telling observation: “As long as the company is sending them work,” says DiLucchio, “the firms assume that that is their evaluation.” Law departments miss out on the opportunity to change the firms’ behavior, says DiLucchio. He’s seen one of two things happen for firms: “Either you die a slow death, where the faucet is slowly turned off. Or you’re just called in one day and told that the company is moving the work elsewhere.”

It reminds me of two things that professional services providers need to do:

1. COMMUNICATE. Regularly check in with your clients to ask them two questions: Am I meeting all of your needs? And Am I aware of all of your needs? (this second question might require some guidance; try asking a few thought-provocative questions)

2. DEMONSTRATE VALUE. Keep them informed about whatever it is you’re working on for them in a way that describes the benefit. Don’t just tell what you’ve done, explain why you did and what it means to them. They don’t know what you’re doing for them on their behalf – they are busy living their lives, running their businesses, etc.

I read an article about the survey results and the author reminded me about Ed Koch, my favorite New York mayor when I was growing up in that area, who always greeted voters and visitors with “How am I doing?” ; the point was that annual client surveys or annual visits by a managing or originating partner just don’t do the trick anymore. Ed Koch was such a great mayor – he cleaned up NYC (which, at the time had become a smelly dump!) and he was a great marketer, coming up with the Big Apple campaign. Writing this post makes me want to plan another trip to New York City – soon!

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