Friday, December 14, 2012

Dear Godiva Chocolates: No, you're actually not passionate about customer service.

Dear Godiva:

Here's what your website says about customer service:

Customer Assistance

We are as passionate about customer satisfaction as we are about making chocolate. We hold ourselves to the highest standards…so you can, too. Your order is guaranteed to arrive in perfect condition, no matter the weather, containing the elegant packaging and quality chocolate customers expect from Godiva. If, for any reason, you are not completely satisfied, simply contact us to return your order for a prompt replacement, refund, or exchange.

Here's what your customer service reps have said in emails (yes, I'm paraphrasing, but I'm happy to show them to you) when I asked them to help me out by rushing some deliveries:
  1. No, we can't adjust your order.
  2. No, we can't really tell you when your order will arrive, other than it might arrive by 12/21.
  3. No, we don't actually give a flying flip about your reaction.
So, Godiva:  your customer assistance folks either need to read your website a little more closely or you need to rewrite it as follows:

Customer Assistance

We like to think of ourselves as a nice company.  After all, we make chocolate, and chocolate makes people happy.  But we're so very, very big that we can't actually give your order the personal attention that you want.  And, frankly, we're ok with that.  After all, what's your alternative?
Feel free to use my language in your next web rewrite.  No charge.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

OK, that expensive book might not be a "must-read," but this one's really intriguing...

See here.  The book'll be out on Amazon and Kindle in the not-too-distant-future.  I read it in one sitting and had a blast.

Expensive new book out (but I have an essay in it).

See here.  This book came out of a wonderful set of conferences at the University of Edinburgh, and I owe my participation in the conferences in large part to the marvelous Randy Gordon.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Dear Law Firms: This re-post is a must-read for you.

From's Corporate Counsel site, Susan Hackett's piece, Ending the Holiday Tradition of Outside Counsel Rate-Increase Letters (here) is a must-read.

The most important take-aways:
  1. Law is a service industry run by professionals who should understand what matters to their clients.  
  2. Just because you would love a rate increase doesn't mean that you have justified one.
  3. If lawyers and their clients can come up with ways of agreeing on fair compensation that doesn't revolve around hourly rates, everyone will (eventually) come out ahead.
Let's face it--hourly billing creates awful incentives, and law firms need to come up with something between the old "bottom line:  services rendered, $X" tradition and the current "piecework" way of billing.

There are a lot of smart people out there--both lawyers and clients--and I know that our profession will figure it out.  Sooner, though, is better than later.  The times aren't a'changin'--they've changed.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Yet more on Larry Mitchell's sunny op-ed on why law school is a good idea.

On another blog (Law School Survival Manual), I've spent a bit of time ruminating over just what in Larry Mitchell's op-ed rubbed me the wrong way.  (See here.)  Other folks are saying the same thing, often in better ways (take a gander at the updates to my post for two such examples, and to the postings on Inside the Law School Scam (starting here). 

I guess what frustrates me most is the sense that decanal groupthink is trying to wish away a lot of the problems that face legal education.  There were many, many kudos to the Mitchell op-ed on one of the deans' listservs.  If those kudos had been from the very top law schools, I'd have understood.  Law degrees from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and other such schools are likely to be exceptionally good investments.  (After all, I benefit greatly from my degree from Stanford.*)

But when good, but not elite, schools are making their case for law school being a good investment, they can't just trot out the "we train you to think!" and "law is a lifetime career!" arguments.  I don't think that the first of those arguments applies just to law schools (pretty much any good education will train someone to think well).  And I don't think that the "law is a lifetime career" theory works when a law graduate can't get a first law job within a reasonable time.  The "you can use a law degree in other careers" argument is true, of course, but just because someone can use a legal education in other fields doesn't mean that spending six figures to get that degree is always a good idea.

I'm as proud of legal education as every other law dean is,** but I want students to enter law school with their eyes open.  (I also want law schools to provide applicants with accurate data so that they can make good choices about whether to attend law school.)

Data + realistic expectations = good choices.
Assertions + wishful thinking = a disaster in the making.

* Although, to be fair, my degree from Rice is nearer and dearer to my heart, but that's probably true of most folks' feelings about their undergraduate degrees.
** Even though I'm just an interim dean.