Getting Your Legal Team to Buy Into TQM
“All anyone asks for is a chance to work with pride” – William Edwards Deming
The principles of total quality management (TQM), spearheaded by William Edwards Deming decades ago, continue to be exceptional tools for practicing attorneys. Given the competitive landscape currently facing the legal community, it is essential for any law firm to offer best-in-class service. After all, the name of the game is client satisfaction and their happiness drives referrals. These principles are not for rainmakers only, however, and it is critical for your entire team to buy into TQM.
TQM at a Glance
Put simply, TQM is a technique that can enhance the quality and productivity of a law firm. It is a comprehensive system that involves partners, associates, and support staff in which the primary objective is client satisfaction. In short, total quality management is an approach that recognizes how clients define quality. If they are happy with your services, they will continue to rely on you and, more importantly, also refer new clients.
Some of the elements that are fundamental to TQM, include:
• Creating constancy in service
• Adopting the new philosophy
• Providing leadership
• Breaking down barriers between staffers
• Constantly improving service
Successful quality management, however, starts with selecting the right team members, implementing on the job training, and motivating your team to excel.
“Innovation comes from people who take joy in their work” – William Edwards Deming
While this seems like a lofty goal, it is essential for every member of the team to understand that they are in the business of client service. It is critical that they understand what their job is and how that fits into the overall mission of client satisfaction. You then must ensure that they have the tools and resources to achieve this goal. The best way to improve quality is to tap the potential of every team member and foster a spirit of cooperation.
Not only must team members grasp the importance of their role, they must go the extra mile by understanding your clients and anticipating their needs. It is important for all team members to be mindful of the fact that dissatisfied clients will take their business elsewhere. By showing your clients that you care, and being committed to achieving successful outcomes for them, you will engender their loyalty.
TQM and Practice Management Software
TQM is a systems-based approach. The right practice management application can enable law firms to manage and track every aspect of a client matter in a single dashboard. Zola Suite was inspired by Deming’s management principles and is designed to maximize your team’s efficiency by providing notification of task deadlines, logging all user activity and performance, and facilitating seamless collaboration among staff, clients and outside users.
“Quality is everyone’s responsibility”- William Edwards Deming
Ultimately, TQM starts at the top, and it’s the job of the firm’s leaders to ensure that every staff member understands that success is driven by client satisfaction, and the quality of your services is a reflection of their happiness. In sum, in order to propel your practice, your entire legal team needs to get on board with this approach and tap into the powerful practice management of Zola Suite.