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Baltimore law firm creates unique role focusing on client experience

It’s frequently said that first impressions are everything, but Miles & Stockbridge PC is taking a hard look at every aspect of the firm’s client service in an initiative highlighted by the creation of a new “chief client experience officer” position at the Baltimore-based law firm.

Edwin Bodensiek, Miles & Stockbridge P.C.'s new chief client experience officer.

Edwin Bodensiek, Miles & Stockbridge P.C.’s new chief client experience officer.

Edwin Bodensiek, who began in the new role about six weeks ago, will be tasked with examining the firm’s policies and practices — from telephone protocol to billing procedures to the use of technology and more — to develop a model for delivering a uniform, top-quality experience to each of the firm’s clients, said John B. Frisch, the firm’s chairman.

“All of the ways we touch and impact clients, we want to try to improve and bring approaches to those areas that will really distinguish us,” Frisch said.

While increased attention to client experience has become more common in business, Bodensiek’s new role at Miles & Stockridge appears to be unique among local law firms. Bodensiek joined the firm from Select Medical, a Pennsylvania-based health care company where he served as vice president of communications and branding. Bodensiek co-designed and led the development of an “experience program” at the company, called The Select Medical Way, which aimed to improve both patients’ and employees’ experience with the company, he said.

“I used to tell our physicians, quality gets you in the game; service helps you win it — the idea that you’re already expected to have a certain level of technical competence, and it’s about what are you going to do to distinguish yourself beyond that,” Bodensiek said. “A lot of people, they’re successful because they offer great service. What we’re trying to do is formalize that approach and build a sustainable model where we can really capture in a consistent way what exactly makes that special.”

Bodensiek said his top priority during his first weeks at Miles & Stockbridge has been meeting with attorneys in the firm’s various offices and learning more about their experiences with clients and their concerns.

“Job number one for me is to get as much feedback as I can and input from attorneys at all levels of the firm, from our senior partners to our laterals and associates,” he said. “We live in a service-oriented economy, and consumers and professional clients alike, they have certain expectations of how to be treated. Along with that comes the desire to also be innovative, and it creates a lot of interesting opportunities to showcase our value.”

While he said it’s too early to say exactly what form those innovations will take, the firm is working with a client advisory board to narrow its focus and will also consider what it can learn from other fields, such as the hospitality industry.

“One of the things we know from talking with clients,” Frisch said, “is that they measure their experience [with us] against every experience they have in the world, not just every experience with a law firm. They’re comparing you against the best experience they’ve had anywhere, and we want to make sure we surpass that experience.”

As part of a recent strategic planning process, Miles & Stockbridge spent time gathering feedback from clients to better understand what qualities of the firm’s services stand out, Frisch said, adding that the new initiative is essentially an attempt to “put that approach on steroids.”

“We think it will take a while to get right, and it’ll evolve,” he said. “I think it’s a multi-year process to get to where we want to be.”