What you can learn from Apple

One of my goals for this year (not resolutions, which tend to be ungrounded and short-lived, for me and many others) is to read more. Specifically, I’m looking to read articles and books from areas of business other than law in an effort to get fresh ideas.

There’s a great deal to be learned from our own profession—I’m certainly not suggesting otherwise—but sometimes the best ideas come through analogous or even dissimilar disciplines.

And so, I offer you January’s suggested reading: The Apple Experience: Secrets to Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty, by Carmine Gallo. The book describes Apple’s customer-focused approach, with a focus on staff (the internal customer), the external customer, and the retail environment. Quite clearly, not all of the book applies to the practice of law, but several keys points do.

Gallo describes Apple’s “five steps of service”:

  • Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome.
  • Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs.
  • Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
  • Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
  • End with a fond farewell and invitation to return.

And though you’ll have to read the book to unpack each of those steps fully, the outline provides a handy guide for conducting a conversation with a prospective client. The point that requires some analogy, of course, is that (unlike an Apple sales representative) your goal is not to provide a solution for the prospective client to implement today. Instead, your goal is to describe what the solution is, how it might work, pros and cons, and (where applicable) some sense of a likely outcome, all with appropriate caveats since you undoubtedly won’t know everything that you need to know about the matter from a pitch or consultation.

Don’t read the book thinking you can apply each point directly to your practice, because you likely won’t be able to do that. Instead, read the book, reflect on the principles it offers, and think about how they might translate for your practice.

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