Verdict Is In: Customer Service Prevails

There are thousands of jokes about lawyers and the legal profession, but customer service is no laughing matter at the Chicago law firm of Laner Muchin Dombrow Becker Levin Tominberg. The 50-year old firm, which only represents management and employers in labor-relations disputes, has taken its decade-old rapid-response philosophy and started offering a guarantee to return any client's phone call within two hours. The firm, which represents companies in nearly every state, as well as high-profile Chicago clients, including Oprah and the Chicago Bulls, has two components to its customer service call-back policy. For its 2 Hour Call Back Guarantee, the firm promises their human resource manager clients will be called back within a maximum of two hours. For its 2 Hour Call back Challenge, Laner Muchin suggests that clients of other firms call their lawyers, wait an hour or two and then call the lawyers at Laner Muchin. If the lawyers at Laner don't return the call first, they'll donate $100 to charity and take the caller to lunch. Both programs were formally launched in April, and to date the firm has met the challenge, according to Laner Muchin partner Tony Dombrow. According to Dombrow, the firm's approach to quickly responding to clients has been a guiding philosophy for decades. "We've always had a service oriented practice--we just decided to market the two-hour concept as a way to help further distinguish us from the rest of the crowd," Dombrow says. He claims that most lawyers' clients are typically not used to timely responses. Even if lawyers are in court or busy, Laner Muchin insures prompt return of client calls by asking callers to speak with the operator to have their attorney paged. The firm's 40 lawyers also leave their cell phone numbers and the telephone number of their assistants on voicemail. "It's really a mind set more than anything else," Dombrow says. Maybe that's why the company has yet to discuss how long to extend the guarantee and challenge. "It's not a gimmick. It's an ingrained way of doing business here that is part of our culture and heritage," he adds.
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