Category Archives: Value

GC Insight: Lawyers need to push more to understand the business

David Eveleigh, GC at Serco

David Eveleigh, GC at Serco

David Eveleigh GC at Serco with a frank assessment of where lawyers – in-house and private practice – need to improve and develop.  More focused on process; better understanding and focus on what needs to be delivered for the business.  His interesting take on lawyer “pull” and not enough “push” to get to know the business feels about right.

Good insight too on how to remunerate to motivate to develop people and culture with the right priorities going forwards.

Making effective changes and innovations here should start by listening to clients … afresh – aiming to innovate and add value to the customer journey.

Read the full interview here >>

Is engaging your people high on your agenda for 2016? If it is, now is a good time to explore new options that can help you leapfrog competitors.

Employee EngagementIt should be!  Engaging people in what you want to achieve – when there is a lot of change and re-focusing of priorities needed – is a critical area of management where most law firms should be focusing right now …. but where is the best place to start afresh or re-engage? 

Let us help you explore how you can use some tools to make this happen (to keep the momentum going), with confidence.

Senior management in most law firms struggle to engage and develop people and to implement new business development initiatives on target.  Nobody feels they have enough time, but a lot of precious management time and energy is easily wasted through lack of consistent focus on what everyone is trying to achieve.  

The Challenges and the Opportunities for UK Legal practices – READ MORE HERE >>

It could be so very different, with Simitive to help structure and manage engagement, projects and development of people.

People – from the CEO or Managing partner to the office junior – work more effectively if they are helped to understand what they can do to make the best use of their skills and experience – and fill gaps as they become apparent; not having to wait for the next formal appraisal.

Many senior managers are too busy because they feel only they can do all of the jobs they do; eating up every second of the day. That does not make for a sustainable business. Management need to find a way to develop others around them to share the load, contributing more, with sound support to ensure results now and fill the gaps in skills and experience along the way.

Arrange a FREE Demonstration of Simitive for you and your team.

Simitive – developed and implemented successfully in other professional services sectors – provides a framework to support better and more effective, routine engagement of people in all aspects of the work they do;  fee earning, management, projects, personal and business development, mentoring etc.  Transparency and alignment of objectives and tasks enables managers to constantly review progress and provide input when needed, quickly adapting the plan by agreement as things progress.  Internal communication, collaboration and innovation all benefit too.

The Simitive solution comprises 3 key components to add structure to management of your practice:

  • Simitive ObjectivesSimitive Goals & Projects provide interactive, real-time management and monitoring of organisation, team and individual goals, objectives and projects. The system ensures that all organisational, team and individual goals and projects are clearly defined, agreed, visible and up to date, with a clear line of sight upwards and downwards through the whole organisation. Clients using Simitive Goals & Projects report a 20% saving in administration time, a 20% saving in wasted effort and a significant increase in the level of employee engagement on the desired outcomes of the organisation.Simitive Review
  • Simitive Review creates an on-going ‘living review’ that aligns with an individual’s goals and allows a more sophisticated, ongoing and adaptive way to communicate. Users of Simitive Review typically see completion rates increase to over 90%. At the same time the quality of conversations increases with over 85% or reviewees and reviewers reporting significant improvements in the quality and value of their appraisals.
  • Simitive LearningSimitive Learning Management helps law firms manage the SRA’s new competency requirements (that are replacing CPD), providing a real-time learning management platform that engages every individual directly in identifying, agreeing and completing learning and development activities.  It enables you to work together with your people to define what learning activity is required, when, and by whom.  It also chases your staff pro-actively to advise of training required.  Simitive’s Learning Management System (LMS) supports SRA-style behavioural, competency and skills frameworks, providing the platform for talent management and succession planning.

To arrange a demonstration contact Allan Carton on 0161 929 8355 or at acarton@inpractice.co.uk

INNOVATE like Pinsent Masons. ENGAGE and DEVELOP your people to PRODUCE RESULTS.

business organizationInnovation and new value-added service propositions seem to be the order of the day but where do you start or re-launch new initiatives to generate the best possible returns?

Having been named Innovative Law Firm of the Year 2015, Pinsent Masons launched a microsite showcasing some of the stories and products that won them the award – see the links to their site and some solutions that can help you get there at the end of this article.  All well worth checking out.

What Pinsent Masons are doing is  certainly “innovative” for the legal sector, so full marks for doing it and for spreading the word to challenge others.   Some lawyers in other firms will rightly be frustrated that they are not “doing something” to match this, as clients will increasingly choose the law firms that tangibly offer more value.  Others will of course be dismissive.

Before you stir things up too much at your practice because you want immediate action  on some of this, make sure you start by getting the groundwork right.  To produce successful results, you need to get – and keep – people on board because this can’t happen overnight. Pinsent Masons have been at this for a long time already.

Ask yourself and your senior management team:

  1. Do we know what our clients want that will add value to your services?  Have we asked? Have we started again from a clean sheet in exploring options?  How can we make it more tangible?
  2. Are we equipped to engage our people effectively in developing and delivering something new and maybe quite different from what they do now?  Are people being coached constantly as we go along to develop and harness their thinking?
  3. How does the way we work together need to change to prioritise and manage these new projects and services effectively?  How do we make that happen?

Key challenges to tackle at the outset then are to engage people to deliver in line with the strategy, develop their skills to match and support them in constantly improving performance and developing those propositions.  These are critical stumbling blocks for too many law firms that start with good intentions on innovation.

We have a number of innovative solutions that can help you bring your people on the journey with you, equipping them to make the transition needed for them to be comfortable and capable of dealing with some clients and delivering some legal services differently.

We can help, working with our business partners on:

  • Independent client listening to develop new service propositions
  • Engaging people, supporting collaboration, project and “real time” performance management – adopting Simitive to structure your approach – focused on outcomes, sharing accountability, making more productive use of time.
  • Learning and developing essential new skills for all employees, ensuring that it is effective, affordable and flexible enough to enable you to let you invest in them.

The Pinsent Masons “Bringing Innovation to Life” website is here >>

To find out more about how we at Inpractice UK can help you to develop, implement and deliver innovative services that add tangible value for your clients, contact Allan Carton on 0161 929 8355 or at solutions@inpractice.co.uk

30% of new business opportunities lost even before the (telephone) conversation begins

Here we highlight the implications – particularly for Conveyancers – of some revealing and enlightening results from recent independent research conducted (not by us) on behalf of Cloud telephony providers, Concert Networks; a telephony company with a significant presence in the legal sector.

The research involved c. 140 “mystery shopping” telephone calls to a selection of 11 law firms at various times of day, reporting on how they responded.  You will find a link to an infographic summarising the overall results and some benchmarks on the Concert Networks website.

The findings and our evaluation below demonstrate that there is a lot of potential to adapt internal operations to make much better use of the telephone to:

  1. Convert more business, as sales opportunities are being wasted
  2. Give clients and prospects a better experience to help them value legal services more; and,
  3. Improve on client service.

The Lost Opportunities 

Let’s focus on conveyancing enquiries for starters.  In responding to the 50 calls that were made to enquire about conveyancing services of firms:

28% of callers (14) never managed to make contact with the law firm at all, instead being kept away by answerphones (mostly, but not all before 9 am), some being told to call back after 9am and engaged tones during office hours. The engaged tones suggest a serious problem with either staffing levels or availability of telephone lines and internal processes to handle the volume.  Whatever the reasons, these firms will be routinely losing substantial new business opportunities.

On a further 2 occasions, any caller would just have given up as they were kept on hold for so long.  We would expect them to hang up … and then call someone else; so again, the opportunity would be lost.

So that adds up to 30% of all these enquiries being lost even before the conversation can begin.  That leaves a big hole in returns on any marketing budget, which is substantially intended to prompt calls like these.

16% of people (8) who did answer calls did not deal with the enquiry at the time, but agreed to “come back later” on the telephone – during which time, we would expect any caller to call another solicitor as soon as they put the phone down – so more marketing budget wasted!

[Note:  A key point in selling conveyancing services is to recognise that consumers really only know two questions to ask, although they may be concerned about much more that you can help them with:  a) How much will  it cost?  and b) How long will it take?

While they have one of these burning questions in their mind – with “how much will it cost” the most obvious to ask (and easiest for conveyancers to answer), they will call someone else if they fail at their first attempt.  If your people did the right job in choosing to answer the “how long” question effectively, the enquirer probably wouldn’t make that other call to another conveyancer.]

Does it matter that lawyers don’t answer the phone before 9am?

I don’t believe all law firms need to be open to the public from 8am or stay open until early evening.  Some should.  However, mobile and online communications can open up more flexible access to lawyers too.  Just like doctors – people increasingly expect to be able to contact a lawyer in a meaningful way outside their own working time; so more consideration should be given to how best to satisfy the changing needs of clients outside standard 9 to 5 office hours.

Looking at the results of this research, the chances of getting a meaningful response before 9:00 am are currently very slim.  Of the 22 calls made before 9am:

  • Only 3 dealt with the enquiry there and then.  Not only did these conveyancers seize the opportunity to convert these enquiries into business; they are also likely to be the ones that pick up the business from callers that had no joy speaking to other firms.  Maybe yours?
  • 8 received an ansaphone message, so callers didn’t get any response – with 5 of these calls made after 8:45am.
  • 7 agreed that they or someone else would call back later – too late we say, as discussed above.
  • 2 were told to call back after 9am when the office opened.
  • 2 agreed to send “quotes” by email.  I’m afraid these are lost opportunities too.  Although the conveyancers may have responded eventually, they lost the chance to let the caller experience what it feels like to be a valued client during that call.  Critical we say to selling conveyancing services on “value”, not just “price.”

Maybe these statistics are a bonus for the firms that see an opportunity they can tap into; to attract more business and provide more of what (some) clients want by extending their opening hours.  Maybe they can do that by providing employees with more flexible working hours that might work better for some of them too.

Bear in mind too though that telephony is developing too to give more options.  For example, more innovative use of telephony systems might enable calls to be handled more flexibly, without the need for a physical presence behind the front desk.  Could that work for you?

We can help you review and develop your telephony operations – not just the systems you buy, but how they are implemented, aiming to give your business maximum competitive advantage.   Redesigning how teams operate, developing opportunities to improve how people work through integration with other applications and improvement of communications with clients are all probably part of the initiatives that flow from there.

Thankyou to Concert Networks for sharing these research findings with us.  The infographic summarising other aspects of their findings can be found here.

For more information, contact Allan Carton or Frank Manning on 0161 929 8355.

“Where you can add value … all about technology” – Henk Potts, Barclays Economist

A lively review here from Barclays’ economist, Henk Potts reviewing progress in 2014 and looking ahead to 2015.  If key opportunities for UK SME’s flow from advances in technology, what does that mean for your legal business and for how you develop your relationships with your SME clients?

 

For the relationship with clients … you will only find out by asking them, but to make the most of the new opportunities that are opening up, you need to interpret what they say back into how you can adapt your use of technology to add more value to your services and your relationship with them.

For more from Barclays – go here >>

If you are interested in exploring how you can harness technology to add more value for your clients to generate more business – contact Allan Carton on 0161 929 8355 or acarton@inpractice.co.uk   Always happy to explore options with you with no obligation.

How do I overcome limited adoption of CRM by fee earners?

Scrabble Are You ReadyYou can probably imagine the scenario and you’ve have probably been there already as this is an ongoing dilemma … so what do you do about it?

To check if you qualify for our FREE in-house Client Relationship (CRM) Workshop for your team at your offices CALL Allan Carton or Nathan Smith, or call 0161 929 8355.

Increasing competition within the legal industry has increased the cost of acquiring new clients, forcing you to ensure you maximise the value of each client over and above the cost of acquisition. You’ve invested in CRM to help you increase client value, but it’s not being used to its full potential. Why? Because fee earners within your organisation are not adapting to the new technology or are delegating responsibility to secretaries.

They want to maximise billing time and, for those in your company that are willing to use your CRM system, tasks deemed as administrative are being delegated to secretaries. Yet, secretaries are not the best people to capture information within a CRM system and this often leads to information getting lost somewhere in the process. The fee earners then question the value of CRM and continue to resist, leaving you with an investment that is not being utilised properly. How do you break this cycle?

At Crimson (Inpractice UK’s technology implementation partners for Microsoft CRM in law firms), we come across this issue a lot across a variety of business sectors, which is why we have tailored our own user adoption programme working with Inpractice UK for legal firms. This includes a suite of tools, training, consulting and technology that breaks the deadlock, helping both fee earners and partners realise CRM’s true benefit. More on that later, but what else can you do to enhance user adoption of your CRM solution?

Here are a few of our tips from our approach to implementing CRM in legal practices:

5. Change how you think, not necessarily how you work – You need to help fee earners and partners change the way they think about CRM.  It’s not simply an IT investment that has been brought in to increase client value. It’s a business critical system that will enhance client relationships across the business. Sit down with those resisting the new system and go through what they currently do now (and don’t do) to increase the value of the legal service they provide. How are they identifying the opportunities for upselling your firm’s services across a range to existing clients?  How are they keeping track of what support clients are currently receiving – not just from them but also from others in your practice? It is likely they will have out of date information, or inconsistencies in their data because they have not been updating it regularly. Make them aware that CRM does this for them in order to get them more on board.

4. Celebrate CRM successes, big and small – Case studies are the best marketing tool you can use for CRM. Celebrate every success and the benefits that CRM delivers, however big or small. Demonstrate to fee earners and partners that CRM makes a difference to make their life better; that what is being done is providing clear and compelling benefits demonstrating in the real world that it is a useful investment when utilised properly.

3. Reward early adopters – Those partners who do adopt CRM from an early stage need to be praised and rewarded. Make an example of them so that those who are resisting the system are encouraged to adopt it more quickly.

2.  Review the system – Conduct frequent audits and review progress of your CRM system.  Identify areas where it could be better utilised and relay this information back to fee earners, to encourage their adoption. Often if you can attribute a benefit to user adoption and show how this is affecting current usage of CRM, fee earners will think twice about resisting.

1. Ask us for help – We have developed a number of accelerators for legal firms that minimise data entry for fee earners, while radically increasing the amount of valuable data gathered. My-CRM is our user adoption programme that we have tailored for legal firms to address the issues associated with manual data entry. It combines tools, training, consulting and technology to help fee earners and partners realise the true benefits of CRM, enhancing user adoption and helping to increase client value. 

For starters – you need to define, agree and communicate a structured plan to do something; probably as a pilot with a small number of users at the outset.  Keep it manageable from the outset.

We start by exploring the strategy of your organisation and understanding what your vision is and what you expect to achieve with your CRM system. We then work with management to help them align their business processes with the CRM system. Understanding the demands on management helps us to identify opportunities for streamlining workflow and supporting management decision making.

We work very hard throughout to motivate users and keep them actively engaged in CRM to increase adoption within a practice. It’s because we understand the challenges facing the legal sector that we have been able to develop this suite of tools that can ultimately help legal firms to realise on average, a four per cent rise in overall profits.

To explore how this can work for your practice, contact either Allan Carton on 0161 929 8355 or Nathan Smith on  01675 466 477 to discuss your particular situation in confidence and without obligation.

We may be able to run a FREE workshop to explore options with your senior management team to help you get a clear view on what you want to achieve with CRM and how to set about doing it the right way.

Ignore USP’s…..Focus on the Tie-Breaker Question!

Create something just a little differentThere hardly seems to be a day that goes by that doesn’t see a law firm partner assert that “we need to focus on our USPs” [Unique Selling Points for those of you who have been spared the finer details] and then sit back in a self-assured manner as if he/she has just made the point of the century.

This is particularly true when a firm is pitching for work from a major or decent sized client and includes formal tender processes as well as less formal opportunities to pitch for work.

So, USP’s; what are they … NOT?  Well let’s start with the assumption that the key part is the ‘U’ – ‘unique’ – a unique selling point.  How many law firms have a unique selling point?  What is your firm’s unique selling point?  Tricky isn’t it? – especially if we take out all of the old contenders such as,

  • Partner led
  • Less expensive than the magic circle
  • Friendly
  • Better IT than anyone else
  • … etc

None of which are remotely unique and all of which are used by people inside law firms (partners and internal business development teams alike) to convince themselves that they have found that USP.

The point is that you don’t have a USP and you aren’t going to get one any time soon – so time to move on and try to figure out what you can do to win that pitch.

This brings us to the tie-breaker – often referred to in pitches by law firms as the “Added Value.”  If you aren’t careful, your added value can go the same way as the USP; a list of fairly dull add-ons that, at best, are no different from anyone else.  At worst, the client doesn’t even want them anyway.

As you read the rest of this article – think of the firm acting for a pub/restaurant chain who offered to ‘sponsor’ the taxi trips home for late night staff – what a justifier…what a tie breaker!!

In the USA – from where I am writing this blog – the tie-breaker is sometimes referred to as ‘the justifier’.  This is a useful term as it gives a good clue to what you need to achieve.  You need to add something to your pitch which not only gives you the tie-breaking edge over your competitors.  It should also allow the buyer – not the organisation, but the individual or small team within the organisation who is responsible for the buying decision (often referred to by law firms as the one “with the gift of instructions”) – to justify the buying decision by demonstrating to his/her own people (usually the boss) that he/she has not only made the right decision but has also won something of value for the organisation from their current or future lawyers.

So what sorts of things are we talking about? 

Well of course it will be different for each prospective client – the point is that we are trying to get away from a pre-defined list; not create a new one.   There are however means by which you can get the prospective client to do the work for you.  For example, engagement during the pitch process is vital. Ask the client questions like “What keeps you awake at night?”; “What are the worst things about Monday mornings?”; “What are their top 3 priorities?” etc (if you have time in the process it may even be worth creating an electronic questionnaire/survey using a tool such as Survey Monkey).

Then try to find solutions and offer them as part of your added value, tie-breaker, or justifier.  Remember – they don’t need to be ‘legal’ solutions – they can be anything.

Darren Francis