Hire the Service Provider That Says No to You

Although there are many expectations I have of the service providers that I prefer to work with, there are two that I would like to discuss today.

1. A good service provider “in my mind” is one that will answer their phone when I call at 6:00 pm on a Friday evening.

Once you're in the litigation support field a while, you will come to realize that attorneys have a knack for showing up late in the afternoon on a Friday with a “new request”. Of course, it is usually not new to them. They have known about it for a period of time, but for whatever reason, they have decided to let litigation support in on it at the last minute, late in the afternoon, just before the weekend. So, the service providers that actually answer their phone when I call are the ones that I like to work with, because they “get it”.

2. Another sign indicative of a good service provider is that they are willing to say No to my request.

When I call them late on a Friday evening, I am usually in the position of having to ask them to perform some work over the weekend. Personally, I do not ask service providers to work weekends unless I definitely have that need. I don't like to take advantage of their time with families and such.

If the service provider is not in a position to complete the work over the weekend due to an already existing full workload, I want them to say No to my request. The worst thing a service provider can do is to over extend themselves simply because they do not want to turn away work. Over extending can turn into missed deadlines or human error mistakes with the project.

I will respect a service provider that has my best interests in mind. In other words, they feel that I would be better off going to another service provider “this time”. I usually have a list of 4 or 5 service providers I call on and I try to alternate between them as best I can. I can easily move on to the next one on the list that will answer their phone on a Friday evening.

Turning away work is the right decision some times and I am fine with it. I appreciate that service provider's honesty and integrity.

Do you agree with this philosophy?

13 Comments

  1. never promise what ‘cha can’t deliver. a true service EXPERT knows what he does not know and what he cannot accomplish by forecasting and strategic thinking.

    agreed!

  2. Amy, I agree wholeheartedly with you point of view on this. You are indeed very wise and have a very concept of how to handle last minute Friday night attorney requests.

  3. I completely agree.  We often forget the competing goals of all the players involved in a Lit Support function.  At many providers you initally interact with sales or PM, which is often driven by sales.  Their goal is wholly different than say a production manager or an empowered project manager.  Sales is tasked with closing deals, while production folks understand our client’s memories are long and often unforgiving in these instances.  As a consumer of discovery services, I often fired vendors where you interact with a sales component at project intake, understanding that the sales guy job is to say yes yes yes.  Sometimes our industry comes off like a 1980s car dealership.  We will sell you a Ferrari when all you needed was a decent minivan and a handshake you could trust.

  4. As I agree with you, most service providers will not say no to you.  I have worked for a lot of vendors and every one always says yes, to just about everything.  Usually If I said no to a client request, then here comes the general manager or VP wanting to know why and screams at me, telling me we need to take care of our clients, even if we have to work weekends, holidays, postpone weddings or whatever, the client comes first, especially if the client is in the top five of revenue generating clients.

    1. Thanks for the comment, James. I am strong believer that there should be no screaming or yelling at anyone. I have seen it too. Managing expectations is key. Even if the service provider feels the need to say Yes because they are a top client, there should at least be a negotiation/discussion about exactly how much can be accomplished by a certain timeframe. In other words, delivering a first wave that make sense for both parties.

  5. Great points!
    Although outsiders may not realize it, that Friday call goes with the industry like peanut butter goes with jelly. I’m sure there have been times we all wished that wasn’t the case, but when it is expected, it can be planned for, so I learned early on to plan accordingly.
    Honesty is always the best policy, even when a mistake has been made. Much better to be honest about capabilities up front of course. I’ve found, from the service provider side, that many times the project still comes to you, but just with adjusted deadlines and expectations. The times that it doesn’t should be looked at as sacrificing you’re own bottom line for the sake of the long term client relationship. This kind of understanding makes us service providers want to work with people such as yourself that “get it”!

    1. Shawn – You are wise. I really appreciate you sharing your perspective.

  6. Interesting! I’m sorry about the 4am contact though. I am not surprised to hear that communication methods between service providers and firms have moved on to text messages, but I personally would use e-mail instead. I would want a record of the back and forth, you know? Maybe a text message initially, but then e-mail after that? I agree with the phone being an interruption especially after hours. I would rather use e-mail so I’m not interrupting dinner or quality time with their family as much as a phone call would.

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