ALA is the premier professional association connecting leaders and managers within the legal industry. We provide extensive professional development, collaborative peer communities, strategic operational solutions, and business partner connections empowering our members to lead the business of law.
- Shared Values
- Member Customer Service Performance Standards
- Telephone Etiquette
- Email Etiquette
- Face-to-Face Interactions
- Problem Resolution
- DELIGHT Members/Customers/Business Partners/Speakers/Staff
- We focus on exceeding the expectations of our members/customers in every interaction.
- We encourage open and honest communication based on mutual respect.
- We embrace workforce diversity, fostering open-mindedness and inclusiveness to create a collaborative and engaging workplace.
- We are continuous learners, sharing new skills and knowledge with others.
- We build strong, supportive relationships with each other to promote individual and team success.
Member/Customer Service Performance Standards
As the premier professional association connecting leaders and managers within the legal industry, the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) is committed to exceeding expectations and delighting and inspiring our members/customers with every interaction. The following member/customer service performance standards guide our professional staff in providing quality service to members, customers, volunteers, business partners, speakers and other staff members. They represent the shared values that define the ALA culture and direct the delivery of services to ensure a positive member/customer experience.
Staff are encouraged and empowered to take the necessary action to ensure every experience a member/customer has with ALA is a positive one and that any problems are resolved to their satisfaction. ALA staff will listen carefully, use good judgment and make sound decisions in every single member/customer interaction. Remember that every member/customer interaction is an opportunity for us to delight and exceed their expectations.
To fully understand our member/customer needs, staff should practice active listening:
- Pay attention without interrupting.
- Summarize what has been said.
- Ask clarifying questions.
- Staff will be courteous and professional in all communications, answering phone calls as expediently as possible and responding to email within 24 hours (during normal business hours). Website questions/requests will also be responded to within 24 hours during normal business hours.
- Staff will listen effectively and fulfill requests promptly or take the necessary actions to ensure delays in service are communicated with an anticipated date of completion.
- Staff will follow up on requests that have been forwarded to another area to ensure the request has been received and fulfilled.
Frequently, the first point of interaction a member/customer will have with ALA occurs over the phone. It is important to create a positive experience and make a lasting impression.
- Speak clearly and directly when answering the telephone, identifying yourself as follows: “Good Morning, this is YOUR NAME with the Association of Legal Administrators; how may I assist you today?”
- Smile when you talk; it makes a difference.
- Use a personal touch when talking to members/customers by asking for their name and using it throughout the conversation.
- Practice active listening so members/customers feel heard. Clarify and rephrase what the members/customers say to ensure you understand them. Empathize with the member/customer (e.g., telling them you understand their frustration) and don’t interrupt.
- Take notes to ensure you have the details of the member’s/customer’s request or issue.
- Always obtain a caller’s permission before placing them on hold.
- If you are unable to assist the caller, provide them with the name and extension number of the individual you are forwarding the call to before transferring the call.
- Staff will notify the caller if someone is unavailable and ask if it is an urgent matter. If urgent, transfer the call to the appropriate manager or inquire if leaving a voice mail message is acceptable.
- Always end a conversation by thanking the caller and asking if there is anything else you can do for them.
- Staff will update their voicemail message when out of the office to inform callers of the absence, when they are returning, and specifying another contact person as an alternate resource.
- As mentioned under responsiveness, staff will respond to all email within 24 hours of normal business hours.
- Staff will reference the ALA Style Book when crafting written communications to ensure cohesiveness in writing styles.
- Staff will proofread all communications before sending; double-check dates, times, names, links, attachments and other specific details. Triple-check that the correct recipients are in the To: fields.
- When out of the office on business-related matters or for personal reasons, all staff should craft an out-of-office automatic reply. This message should inform the sender the exact dates you are out of the office, your availability to respond and who they can contact for immediate assistance. See the elements below for crafting an effective out of office email reply:
- Thank the sender for their email communication. Specify the exact dates you will be out of the office. If you are using the same message you crafted during your last absence, make sure you update the information with correct dates.
- State if you will or will not have email access during your absence.
- Make sure you provide another contact that can assist the sender while you are out of the office. If possible, provide their name and phone number and/or email address.
Sample out of office email response:
- And as always, include your signature line information.
- Approach members/customer/business partners with a personalized and engaging welcome. Choose your words carefully, avoid negative language and speak clearly and confidently. Remember that communication works both ways and is an exchange between two or more parties. Listen and reflect on what has been said before responding.
- Be cognizant of nonverbal communication; body language is critically important. Remember to keep eye contact but avoid staring, and stand or sit up straight. Keep your arms uncrossed and pay close attention to what is being said. Having a pleasant expression conveys friendliness and openness. Understand that everyone may have a different perspective on physical contact and anything beyond a handshake should be carefully considered; a pat on the back, touching an arm or hugging can be viewed as unwelcome contact. Use your best judgment and always err on the side of caution.
"Thank you for your email. I am out of the office at this time (specify if you will or will not have access to email) and will return DATE. If this is an urgent matter, please contact NAME at [email and phone number]. Otherwise, I will respond to your email within 24 hours of my return."
When interacting with our members, customers or business partners, it is important to remember that you are always representing ALA. You should maintain a professional demeanor and ensure that the impression you make on others is positive and respectful.
It is important to remain calm when dealing with a member/customer that is disgruntled. Don’t take any comments personally or be defensive; instead listen carefully to fully understand the issue at hand. Be sure to apologize to the member/customer when handling a complaint and resist the urge to make excuses for any errors or miscommunications. Reassure the member/customer that your goal is to ensure that the problem or error is resolved to their satisfaction. A simple, straightforward statement can make all the difference, example: “I’m sorry you were not satisfied with our conference, webinar, etc. Let’s see what we can do to make things right.”
(Note: Not every problem can be resolved immediately or to the complete satisfaction of the member/customer. In these instances, it is best to say: “It's unfortunate [insert issue] happened and I’m aware of the problems it has caused you. I appreciate your patience as I work to resolve this matter.” Depending on the situation you may need to confer with someone else on staff, such as a manager or director, to determine what can be reasonably done. It is important to convey to the member/customer that you will need to reach out to others on staff and will get back to them as soon as possible.)
Follow up after a problem is resolved. Ensure the member/customer was satisfied with the service. Remember, it is all about how you engage with the member/customer. As an example, a book we sell is out of stock. You could respond by saying the book is on back order and unavailable at this time. Or you could use positive language and let them know when the book will be available, and offering to place the order for them immediately so that it is sent as soon as possible.
3 Ways to Say You Don’t Have the Information or Answer
- “That’s a great question. I want to be sure I give you the right answer, so I need to double-check with someone. Can I call you back?”
- “Before I answer your question, I need to check on a few things to ensure I provide correct information. Can I follow up with you later today?”
- “My colleague is an expert in that area. Could you hold just a moment while I check with her?”
- Don’t underestimate the effect you have on others, whether it is a casual interaction with another staff member or fulfilling a member/customer’s request, you will leave a lasting impression with that person.
- Empathy and patience go a long way.
- Listen without interrupting and be authentic.
- Inspire trust and credibility.
- Give 100% of your attention to the person with whom you are communicating.
- Have a positive attitude.
- Take responsibility, identify problems and find solutions.
NOTE: Abusive behavior or harassment from a member or customer should not be tolerated. If an interaction becomes volatile and/or you are uncomfortable with the situation, you should contact a manager immediately.
DELIGHT Members/Customers/Business Partners/Speakers/Staff