Quality, Service & Price: Choose Two
The title is reminiscent of a sign that a friend of mine had posted behind the counter of his print shop in the early nineties. What made me remember this sign was my experiences over the past few months was my experiences over the past few months dealing with contractors and buying appliances and other goods for our new house.
It seems to me the title statement could be considered a truism. Stated another way: you cannot pay the lowest price and expect both quality and service. This seems to be especially true in present day America.
And of the three, you really should rarely skimp on Quality, which defines the value of a good or service. So the choice is most often between Price and Service.
Too often, I think, we choose price over Service. At least I know, I do! Money often is an overrated asset valued perhaps more highly coveted than it should be. Afterall, money is only good for acquiring goods and services. In and of it self, it has no tangible value: money is a merely abstract concept afterall. However, I do understand why we value it so highly: people covet that which we do not have enough of and we never seem to have enough money.
But if money is abstract and intangible, Service is much more so. It is extremely difficult to put a value on it and often we do not value it until it is too late. Consider the situation where you have purchased a piece of computer equipment and something goes wrong or it doesn't work properly. You read the manual and do everything that is suggested in it to no avail. So you call customer service where after what seems like 20-30 minutes surfing through automated menus you finally get a live person. You ask your question and (AARGH!) they read the manual back to you!!! They are no help at all and you spend the next day and a half doing everything possible to solve the problem. My guess is in the end you wish you had bought a product that had a better support staff backing it up.
I guess the biggest question is: is there an exception to the rule where one can have all three: Quality, Service and Price? Sometimes, yes, but usually no. Look for companies or service providers that are hungry to grow. To get established they will often sacrifice on price while providing a superior product and incredible service. But as the newcomer gets busy, something always suffers. The company realizes it cannot make money and compete offering incredible customer service on the shoe string budget required because of the low price. One or both suffers and BEWARE of the established company that offers great customer service and a great price BECAUSE they are probably skimping on Quality.
Anyhow, there really isn't any point or moral to this post. Just something to ponder as a consumer.
Now, I am sure some of you are wondering where our firm fits into the mix. Well, we are still fairly young and growing so we try to provide all three. I will tell you that I value quality above all else in the patents I draft and compared to some of my national competitors, I am more expensive. However, I am still much less expensive than Big Firm lawyers that I used to work along side. I firmly believe I offer among the highest quality to price ratios among patent attorneys that work primarily with individuals and small companies.
You will typically find the best service at the big firm as they have secretaries and docketing clerks to make sure you are well informed of all aspects of you legal representation. On the other hand, the big firm attorneys often do not have the time and energy to devote to talking with the individual client as it keeps them from drafting lucrative applications for their Fortune 500 clientele. So servicewise, I make it a point to return all client calls within 1 business day and I take the time to walk clients through the patenting process so they understand what they are paying me for. However, sometimes I am remiss in getting copies of documents out to my clients despite everything being filed promptly and on time with the appropriate authorities. I am constantly striving to do better but the realities of limited time often affects my success in this regard. I guess you have to consider what you would prefer: institutionalized service of the Big Firm or less perfect but personal service that I offer.
And if I do not post for a few days: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hears to hope that no matter how good or bad 2005 was for you, 2006 will be even better.