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All posts tagged Building Relationships

While the holidays are filled with beautiful traditions and special moments, this time of year can feel dominated by the to-do lists, gifts and stress. Over the last several weeks, the topics of holiday stress, wish lists and “managing it all” have become common discussions during our interviews or meetings with clients. We often ask […]

We are entering the final months of the year, which is often a time of reflection (and collection). At WPG, we’ve been reminded of the valuable year-end actions that will show your clients you are listening and are focused on providing the best client service possible. No matter the stage of your career or your […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post originally appeared in April 2017. When clients take the time to offer feedback, they give their lawyers and firms a gift. It is the gift of their time—a gift demonstrating they care about the relationship. But with that gift comes great […]

TV Dinner

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While many cultures have days and ceremonies for giving thanks, our uniquely American holiday is just around the corner. Gratitude is the killer happiness app, so it is no wonder I love the concept and traditions surrounding Thanksgiving. We all know how important storytelling is in the context of business development, and Thanksgiving is special […]

I have been in the legal industry for almost 20 years now: two decades of working with lawyers and law firms trying to create change, inspire innovation, improve the client relationship and help lawyers deepen and grow their books of business. I’ve learned a great deal, including that change is hard for this industry and […]

Some people love attending industry conferences and events to network, get out of the office and learn something new. Others dread the scene entirely. But regardless of your attitude, conferences can be a rare opportunity to connect with clients, prospects and referral sources all in the same place. Follow these six tips to make the […]

My wife and I were on vacation last week. She and I have many things in common, including the fact that we both work for law firms and both own our businesses. She has a great team that supports her, and I have the world’s most amazing partners. We also both love our all-too-infrequent vacations […]

After graduate school and prior to attending law school, I taught college-level communications and theater arts for four years. What I enjoyed and remember most during those early years in my career was witnessing firsthand when a student would have an “aha” moment—understanding a concept or delivering a speech to an appreciative audience or nailing […]

Thanks to Conference Co-Chairs Robin Gerard and Jonathan Fitzgarrald and a terrific Conference Committee, I had the opportunity to present in Los Angeles at the recent Legal Marketing Association West Region Continuing Marketing Education (“CME”) Conference. My discussion on happiness was decidedly different than the excellent presentations on topics such as business development, public relations, competitive […]

Most lawyers tend to be good communicators. Either written or verbal, they thrive on words. After working with lawyers for over 20 years, one thing has stayed constant: In times of greatest strength and significant stress, lawyers find comfort in words. It is often what makes them excellent at their jobs, particularly the technical and […]

The fall back-to-school time has always been a better time for me to incorporate new habits or routines than January. I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. There is something about the shift from carefree, long and hot summer days to shorter, crisp fall days that seems to encourage a back-to-business attitude. So […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post, one of our most read in the first half of this year, originally appeared in February. When I ask a group of lawyers why they get hired, I usually get one of these default answers: “We’ve worked with them before.” “They trust us.” […]

Current news almost always creeps into the conversations during client feedback interviews. And lately, we are hearing a lot from sophisticated clients about the growing focus on managed services and the increasing legal professional headcounts in the Big Four accounting firms. As you would expect, it’s the tax and M&A folks in companies that have […]

Many of the attorneys we coach rely too heavily on “entertainment” as their primary business development activity. While sharing a meal, playing golf or attending an event together can be a very effective way to strengthen client relationships, random acts of entertainment will not result in business development success. Many clients bemoan any additional invitations […]

During the proverbial dog days of summer, outside counsel often assume clients are disinterested in interacting with them and are taking some kind of “break.” But like many assumptions made by law firm lawyers, this one is worth rethinking. We find in our conversations and interviews with in-house counsel that August is often a time […]

This is the third post in a three-part series on succession planning. You can find the first post here and the second post here.  Many senior lawyers are not receptive to the notion of retirement, which makes the succession/transfer of clients to younger partners difficult to say the least. As I noted in a previous […]

Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon and Nicholas Toman have analyzed over 700 unique business-to-business purchases and identified seven distinct customer profiles: Go-Getters. Motivated by organizational improvement and constantly looking for good ideas, Go-Getters champion action around great insights wherever they find them. Teachers. Passionate about sharing insights, Teachers are sought out by their colleagues for their […]

It is hard to believe that we are halfway through 2018. Time flies when you are having fun! Many of you have vacations planned over the next several months, and summer is a perfect time to step back and assess what you are doing well and where you might need to check in with your […]

This is the second post in a three-part series on succession planning. The first post was published in May. When is the best time to retire? It’s a complicated question with no cookie-cutter answers. Timing may be the most important ingredient in a successful retirement—and client transfer—recipe. This is particularly true for law firms. Many […]

Particle physics and astronomy both attempt to understand our universe from two different vantage points: one immediate observations of the infinitesimally small, and the other grand-scale observations of ancient light and energy. Micro versus macro. On a macro level, quoting from the recent widely-read Open Letter from 25 General Counsel, “leaders of the legal profession […]

Tara Weintritt, Partner, Wicker Park Group Daniel H. Weintraub, Managing Director and General Counsel, Audax Group Here at Wicker Park Group, we have been interviewing clients on behalf of law firms for over a decade. The feedback has evolved after more than 3,000 interviews, but the core messages are similar. Clients want you to spend […]

In 2016, we shared a popular blog post about the four rules of loyalty laid out by Peter Shankman in his book Zombie Loyalists, which is a study in how to create rabid fans. The legal landscape is changing rapidly, but these essential strategies to build loyalty remain relevant and are worth sharing again. Be transparent. While it was much […]

Too often, outside counsel misconstrue what it means to understand a client’s business. They confuse the simple concept of what a company does with a deeper understanding of why the company does it and how it is impacted by broader industry trends. In many client relationships, outside counsel wait for the phone to ring, listen […]

This is the first post in a three-part series on succession planning. I’m currently working with a young partner at a Midwest firm of 300+ attorneys. Her business development plans include what she calls her “inheritance strategy.” As the name implies, she is working with a senior partner to acquire his clients when he retires. Yet, […]

There is a recurring theme among our client interviews and electronic feedback surveys these days, and acting on it is a win/win for clients and lawyers. Clients want their lawyers to be more proactive and routinely tell us they wish their lawyers would take the time to pick up the phone, schedule a visit or […]

Advanced technology was supposed to free us up to work less, spend time with our loved ones and pursue hobbies. Instead, these devices are just shackling us to work and creating blurred lines between our work and personal lives. Everyone is just working more, and that’s especially apparent in our industry. In the past few […]

The weather should be better, and the days are getting longer. Spring is upon us, which means it’s time to contemplate some professional spring cleaning. The legal-industry version of spring cleaning is not much different from what you do around your house and in your personal life to get organized and leave behind winter hibernation. […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post originally appeared in May 2017. At Wicker Park Group, we conduct many business development workshops each year and believe strongly in the value of case studies as the best way for attorneys, usually acting in groups, to practice “meeting” with a […]

If feedback was easy, then it would happen every day, in real time, and there would never be a single doubt about any of the themes most critical to every client-law firm relationship: Do you understand your clients’ needs? Do you know how to make their lives easier? Do you know what is important to […]

It was fourteen years ago, while CMO at a fast-growing law firm, that I interviewed—and eventually hired—one of the best sales professionals in the legal industry. Our candidate was introduced to me by a partner at the firm who understood the value a sales professional could bring to the success of the firm. Hiring new […]

Let Me Count the Ways…

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In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I decided to take a look at WPG client feedback reports from the past few months to see what clients say they really love about their law firm relationships. Clients really feel the love when their outside counsel are generous, insightful, adaptable, consistent, collaborative, fun to be around, thoughtful gift […]

When I ask a group of lawyers why they get hired, I usually get one of these default answers: “We’ve worked with them before.” “They trust us.” “We have the resources they expect.” “We are great lawyers at a great firm.” Yes, and no. Clients hire lawyers that can say all of the above. But […]

Throughout my many years working with law firms, I have found that interactive games can be a welcome addition to any firm retreat. In particular, games that help lawyers learn more about their colleagues are often more effective than traditional practice group panel presentations. As firms grow and change, it is important for individuals to […]

Diversity Matters

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We tend to end our interviews with a parting question. It’s usually something along the lines of, “Is there anything we haven’t asked or discussed that you would like to talk about and/or we should have asked?” Interestingly, the last three of four interviews I have held concluded with the same response: diversity. Maybe it […]

Building client loyalty—particularly in this legal environment—takes real effort. You need to design your clients’ experiences, and that must incorporate the voice of the client. This May 21-23, join Wicker Park Group in attending CXps 2018 (Client Experience in Professional Services) and learn how to design client experiences that succeed. Learn more and register here.

Adaptability. In every conversation I have with in-house counsel and the lawyers who support and serve them, the single most important trait clients value and lawyers pride themselves on is adaptability. Often other words are used to describe this highly valued trait, but it really comes down to adaptability as the key to successful relationships. […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post, our most read in 2017, was originally posted in November. Those readers familiar with Wicker Park Group are aware of our key theme in 2017: Adding Value. For those of you new to the concept, adding value is one of the […]

I recently helped a former colleague explore new job opportunities, and I was reminded of how often we rely on making connections. We network both professionally and personally constantly: seeking a new client, finding a recommended doctor, getting tickets to a sought-after event or finding the right office space. The list could go on and […]

Take the Meeting

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As part of a recent business development workshop, we invited a friend (we will call him Bob) who is the “partnership partner” for a well-known venture capital fund to serve as the “prospect” for our case study. The context for the case study was intentionally sketchy because our prospect was neither responsible for—nor likely much […]

December is a busy month for most law firms. In addition to the holidays and hectic schedules, it is budget and collection season for most firms, and everyone at the firm is laser-focused on closing out the year. Tensions are high, hours are long and conversations can be uncomfortable. Lawyers are pressed daily to collect […]

We’ve written countless blog posts about the importance of talking with clients “off the clock” to seek feedback and gain a better understanding of their businesses, strategic goals, preferences, priorities and pressures. The attorneys doing this well have seen the simple effort make a dramatic difference in the strength of their client relationships as well […]

This post was originally published in November 2014, but the tips are still relevant and valuable as we enter into the final weeks of the year. Happy Thanksgiving from Wicker Park Group! Here at WPG, Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays. It allows for cherished time with friends and family. Most of us, at […]

Last week, I taught a public speaking class to a group of five first-year associates at a mid-sized law firm. All of the associates were fast approaching—or initially enjoying—their 30s. They were smart, energetic and happy to be in a reputable firm with a good-paying position to help defray law school debt. As we reflected […]

Those readers familiar with Wicker Park Group are aware of our key theme in 2017: Adding Value. For those of you new to the concept, adding value is one of the most important qualities necessary to building long-term, trusting, meaningful client relationships. Clients routinely mention adding value as one of the key differentiators of their […]

As firms plan for 2018, we spend a lot of time talking with existing law firm clients as well as those that are (finally) prepared to launch a formal client feedback program. As part of that conversation (and even in formal RFPs), we are asked to share our philosophy on client feedback. Our philosophy can […]

This is the third of three posts on introductions. In our first post, we focused on introduction fundamentals of effective in-person introductions. Introductions are personal, positive and connective. They build goodwill with very little effort.  Most rainmakers are good networkers, in no small part because they know how to connect people through introductions. Introductions are […]

The two most frequently asked questions we answer when working with our clients at the beginning of any engagement are: How do we handle difficult feedback? What happens if we don’t have a formalized system to act and follow up on the feedback we get from our clients? Those two questions are more connected than […]

This is the second of three posts on the value of effective introduction skills. Read the first one, The Importance of a Good Introduction, here. Twenty years ago, I was working as the business development director for the Portland Office of Cooper & Lybrand, the international accounting firm that merged to form PricewaterhouseCoopers. The office […]

Wicker Park Group will periodically revisit some of our most popular blog posts. This post, one of the most read in the first half of 2017, was originally posted in January. Howard Schultz recently announced he is stepping down from his role as CEO and Chair of Starbucks to focus on the company’s plans to build high-end […]

At WPG, we read a lot. In the spirit of back to school and reporting on “summer reading,” I share recommendations for two great books about the skills that clients we interview often describe as the traits distinguishing extraordinary from average legal service. Empathy, emotional intelligence, communication skills and the ability to cultivate relationships are essential […]

At a recent leadership roundtable event, WPG facilitated a discussion among managing partners and firm leaders on what they most need from CMOs and marketing teams. The ideas that came out of the discussion aren’t earth shattering—but they are the most essential (and often unsaid) ways in which marketing teams propel their firms forward. The […]

This is the first blog in a three-part series on the value of introductions and how good introduction skills lead to better client service and new business. Check back soon for the second installment. Introductions are everywhere. Think about it: Who among us doesn’t enjoy introducing our friends and colleagues to each other? It’s easy, it’s fun […]

Given what we do for a living, we are often traveling by plane and spend quite a bit of quality time with specific airline carriers. The three of us happen to fly three different airlines, but the experience tends to be the same (not unlike the experience with similarly-sized, capable, leading law firms.) Air travel […]

Firms today are missing out on work because they’re failing to invest in a hugely important client contact: the in-house legal operations professional. Building relationships with GCs and in-house counsel is very valuable, but it often fails to translate into more work if you’re not also communicating regularly with the director of legal operations team. […]

We always tell our law firm clients that communication is the key to the best client relationships. And communication takes many forms: the written word, the business-practical and commercial advice, the tone you set when talking to in-house counsel, the way in-house counsel want and expect to communicate for any and every matter and, of […]

It is the rare firm these days that does not offer some form of career and/or business development coaching services to its attorneys. Just about everyone in legal marketing has been asked to “coach” lawyers. Often, however, coaching attorneys in business development is easier said than done. And it can be complicated when succession issues […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, originally posted in June 2016, was one of last year’s most read posts. At the recent Client Experience in Professional Services conference in Durham, North Carolina, Stan Phelps shared his insights about winning the hearts of customers and influencing positive […]

I get the pleasure of seeing some pretty amazing places of business for my job. We get sent to all sorts of businesses all around the world to interview law firm clients and learn about their businesses and how the law firms can serve them better: manufacturing plants, industry giants, privately-held businesses that started from […]

Interview With Rich Cohen, President and General Counsel Corporate Creations Corporate Creations is the third largest provider of registered agent and compliance services nationwide for Fortune 1000 companies, Global 2000 companies and private companies. It also provides registered agent services for many law firms and their clients. Corporate Creations is a privately held company. It […]

The following article, written by Susan Kostal, was posted June 1 as part of JD Supra’s Perspectives series. I’ve attended many panels where in-house counsel share their likes and dislikes, but in the last year the tone has changed. In-house attorneys are increasingly dissatisfied, they tell us, because they can’t have the kind of conversations they […]

If you are like me, most weeks you find and save an article or two about legal marketing and business development. This past week, while sifting through the stack, I was reminded of a scene from the movie Finding Forrester. Released in 2000, it is the story of an unlikely friendship between a reclusive writer […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, originally posted in June 2016, was one of last year’s most read posts. One of our more popular blog posts in 2015 talked about the importance of actively listening to clients in a world of many distractions. We quoted author Sherry Turkle’s observations about […]

For the last decade, we have worked with firms to launch, lead, develop and support client feedback interviews. And in almost every firm, the managing partner or chair is either already conducting relationship visits or planning to do them as soon as possible. They often come to us to discuss how to both train the […]

At Wicker Park Group, we conduct many business development workshops each year and believe strongly in the value of case studies as the best way for attorneys, usually acting in groups, to practice “meeting” with a client prospect for the purpose of developing rapport. Consistently, the experience is eye-opening. In practice, most lawyers spend too […]

Albeit unplanned and a bit happenstance, I have been interviewing quite a few alumni of our law firm clients. Alumni are great interview candidates for many reasons. They have insights and perceptions that go beyond the average firm client. They have “experienced both sides” and have an appreciation of what they would do differently. They […]

Wicker Park Group is revisiting some of the processes around Client Feedback Interviews in a new series of blog posts called “Back to Basics.” This is the fourth article in the series. You can find the first article about how to choose clients for feedback here, the second article about the importance of preparation here and the third […]

When clients take the time to offer feedback, they give their lawyers and firms a gift. It is the gift of their time—a gift demonstrating they care about the relationship. But with that gift comes great responsibility. And unlike a traditional gift, you have to do much more than just send a thank you note […]

Make It Easy

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At the beginning of 2015, I was given the great opportunity to become a strategic partner with the Wicker Park Group, the preeminent firm focused on client feedback in the legal industry today. At our first meeting, I asked the group: “After more than 2,000 client feedback interviews, what is it that clients care about […]

We have quite a few clients in the process of updating their websites and/or going through a brand overhaul. As many of you know, it is a massive undertaking both from a time and money perspective. But it is also a perfect opportunity to offer clarity to the marketplace on what your firm and lawyers […]

The bar is low. Despite tremendous progress in the past 20 years, law firms continue to lag behind their clients’ industries and other professional service firms when it comes to innovation, client experience and client engagement. Again and again, we hear law firm clients say the attorneys and law firms that stand out from the […]

It happens. General counsel get fired—and sometimes fired very publicly. And law firms are rarely prepared for the unexpected people changes at their clients, let alone have a clear plan as to how they might impact the work and the larger client relationship. Ironically, law firms spend significant time thinking about what may happen if […]

Wicker Park Group is revisiting some of the processes around Client Feedback Interviews in a new series of blog posts called “Back to Basics.” This is the third article in the series. You can find the first article about how to choose clients for feedback here and the second article about the importance of preparation here. Most […]

At the end of a client feedback interview last week, the senior in-house counsel I was speaking with summed up the relationship by saying, “At the end of the day, they get all my work because they make me look good.” It is that simple. In an era where competition is greater than ever and […]

Wicker Park Group is revisiting some of the processes around Client Feedback Interviews in a new series of blog posts called “Back to Basics.” This is the second article in the series. You can find the first article about how to choose clients for feedback here. Whether conducting interviews face to face or via telephone, we recommend […]

Wicker Park Group is revisiting some of the essential processes around Client Feedback Interviews in a new series of blog posts called “Back to Basics.” This is the first article in the series. Check back regularly for updated entries. Unless you have unlimited time and resources, it is impossible to visit or call every single firm client […]

Howard Schultz recently announced he is stepping down from his role as CEO and Chair of Starbucks to focus on the company’s plans to build high-end coffee shops that charge as much as $12 per cup of coffee. That makes me think of the top end of the lawyer’s hourly billable rate. The $2,000 hour […]

As is customary, the New Year brings with it a variety of resolutions, plans and promises. As such, this is a great time to outline and schedule business development training for the year. Along with the traditional marketing and communication responsibilities, today’s CMOs are expected to oversee new and evolving business development and sales initiatives, […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, originally posted in June, was one of this year’s most read posts. Last week, a friend of mine here in New Orleans asked me for a referral for a good internal medicine physician. Being a corporate lawyer by training and practice, I […]

End-of-the-year travels have had me on more airplanes, staying in more hotels, eating in more restaurants and visiting more law firm offices than usual. During my travels, I experienced some of the best and some of the worst hospitality imaginable. On one trip, weather and travel delays typical of the season resulted in missed connections, […]

Many law firms understand how to meet their client’s biggest and most obvious client service preferences. We’ve all laughed about (and learned from) the story of the firm that FedExed its RFP response to UPS and was summarily dismissed from the process as well as the firm that forgot to remove competitor products from the […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, from November 2015, was one of last year’s most read posts.   There seems to be a theme with our clients these past few months: change. We have three different clients who recently hired new CMOs, and there are significant changes […]

Wicker Park Group recently had the opportunity to speak with Doug Luftman, the Chief Innovation Officer and General Counsel at Lecorpio. He shared insights on what GCs are looking for from outside counsel and how to develop and strengthen those relationships. Luftman said, “The most valuable thing is outside counsel being savvy about my business and having true […]

The election of Donald Trump as President has sent shock waves around the world. Indeed, the unexpected outcome has created many questions and much uncertainty about what will happen in the next few months and years. What opportunities does this transition of power to a business executive with strong conservative leanings but no government experience […]

Fall is one of our busiest interview seasons at Wicker Park Group. Just last month, I conducted over 30 individual interviews. The companies ranged in size, revenue, region, complexity and legal department sophistication, yet the feedback themes were very consistent and tended to focus on communication. Firms received praise and appreciation for frequent, collaborative, consumable […]

While I was talking to a law firm partner about one of her most significant clients last week, she said, “Every time we have face time with the client, we walk away with several new projects. But that is so hard because we are so busy just managing the work and their complicated financial reporting […]

In the past month, I have moderated multiple in-house counsel panels (both in public forums and at private law firm retreats), interviewed more than a dozen in-house counsel and led client service workshops at law firms. In every instance, I was struck by the widening gap between what clients want from their outside counsel and […]

How to Lose a Client

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We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, from October 2015, was one of last year’s most read posts. After twenty years as general counsel of a financial institution and a large medical center, I have heard plenty of complaints from our executives about working with outside counsel. In […]

Every Saturday morning, five baby boomers including myself join together for a 4- to 5-mile run. We’re not fast, but we are committed and make it whenever we can. Four of us work in legal: one is a solo practitioner, two work in different mid-size firms and me (the token business development consultant). Bob, the […]

Wayne Gretzky is famous for being one of the greatest hockey players in history. He is also known for inspiring thousands with his quotes. One of my favorite Gretzky quotes is: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” It is simple but incredibly powerful and exactly […]

I was recently challenged to explore what client service will look like in 2026. The good news is the conversation has already started, but the bad news is law firms have a long way to go. It is great that the idea of “client service” is authentically being explored within law firms, but what many […]

In my work over the past year with individual associates and partners on client business development, I have noticed several common themes that are worth sharing: 1. In law practice client development, many lawyers are asking for a business development “template” to simply read and follow. To that, I repeat our mantra: “One size fits […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, from November 2015, was one of last year’s most read posts.   “While our attorney conveys knowledge and supervises other attorneys, we don’t see a successor. But we don’t see one in any law firm. There is no incentive to do […]

When discussing client relationships and client service with law firm leaders, we are often asked a question I find surprising: When is the best time to go visit a client? Before delving into the answers to that question, we often set the stage with the lawyers (and the marketing and business development professionals) we are […]

I began my legal career like the majority of law school graduates—by joining a law firm as a fresh-faced associate. My primary job responsibilities were to represent the firm’s financial institution clients in litigation matters. I had no assigned business development duties other than to keep our clients happy with our legal services. After twelve […]

Early in my law firm marketing career, I held an in-house position at a Pacific Northwest law firm of approximately 150 lawyers. I was asked to speak at the firm retreat. I shaped my presentation around the basics: Focus on relationships, distinguish yourself through client service and always be responsive. As I opened the floor […]

As mentioned in a recent blog post, we at Wicker Park Group love to read and love to share favorites with each other and with clients. Amid the many excellent books that address the client experience, we picked one particularly standout book to share with clients this year: Zombie Loyalists by Peter Shankman. Zombie Loyalists […]

Last week, a friend of mine here in New Orleans asked me for a referral for a good internal medicine physician. Being a corporate lawyer by training and practice, I don’t know which internal medicine physicians have the best skills and experience. But I do know from personal experience which doctors sincerely care about my […]

One of our more popular blog posts last year talked about the importance of actively listening to clients in a world of many distractions. We quoted author Sherry Turkle’s observations about putting away your cell phone to invest in the conversation and connect. But what about when you’re not in person but talking on the […]

At the recent Client Experience in Professional Services conference in Durham, North Carolina, Stan Phelps shared his insights about winning the hearts of customers and influencing positive word of mouth. Phelps is the author of What’s Your Purple Goldfish?, and his crowd-sourced stories resonated with the audience of engineering, design, architectural, construction, legal and financial […]

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