Innovative Service Development
The following case study explains how a law firm has developed innovative services, many with Client involvement.
PUTTING CLIENTS FIRST IS IN OUR DNA
'The traditional image of the lawyer as an old-fashioned adviser is being rapidly consigned to history as the market for legal services undergoes a transformation' says Neville Eisenberg, Managing Partner, Berwin Leighton Paisner.
'The combination of Client demand for better value for money, technological advances and deregulation has created an environment where the best lawyers are innovating in order to provide legal advice in different ways.'
'Clients' needs are at the heart of any creative solutions and many of the best solutions in modern legal services are being developed together with Clients. For many lawyers, collaborating with Clients in designing new ways of delivering legal services is, in itself, an innovative approach.'
A wide range of new approaches is emerging. At BLP, where we have put innovation at the heart of our Client service delivery models, we have developed a number of market-leading services. For example, these include flexible resourcing alternatives through our Lawyers on Demand (LoD) business. LoD now offers virtual transaction teams - groups of lawyers who work remotely and come together for defined projects.'
'We have developed an Integrated Dispute Resolution service which brings together a unique set of services designed to support Clients at all stages of dispute resolution. While this service is specifically for dispute resolution, the firm as a whole has adopted new ways of delivering legal advice using virtual techniques, making complex advice accessible to executives with limited time.'
'Innovation isn't always about inventing new things. At BLP, we encourage our people to think in innovative ways. It's become part of our DNA.'
Other Innovations Used by Professional Services Firms
Attracting prospective clients at events
An Economist conference about an important business issue was sponsored by a large accounting firm. Invitations were sent out by the journal and the accounting firm to over 3,000 people, resulting in an attendance of around 500 delegates for the full-day event. There were a number of breaks between the high-level presentations and it was decided to select delegates to be interviewed and filmed for about five minutes each about the event, why they had chosen it and their key business issues.
A queue soon formed as other delegates became curious about the filming. By the end of the day, the accounting firm had interviewed 20 delegates, all prospective Clients. Each interview was followed up post-event by contacting the interviewee for a short meeting. As a result, a number of new relationships developed, leading to new business.
Creating client interest through thought leadership
It takes considerable effort to attract the interest of prospective Clients of professional services firms. An increasing approach is to create new research on a topical issue that encourages prospect participation. The results from the research can then be used to attract further interest in the form of an executive summary and full report. Events can be held on the back of the research findings, leading to small group discussions with target prospects.
Creating interest through sponsorship
Another credible approach is to sponsor a series of press articles and provide interview candidates who can eventually become Clients. If the firm has a strategy to work with start-up businesses, it could sponsor an exhibition for entrepreneurs or appear at a sponsored conference.
Creating unusual social events
One law firm mentioned a successful event held at a specialist winery where Clients and prospects could mingle and taste various wines from all over the world. The aim of the event was to demonstrate the global reach of the law firm and partners from member firms attended to speak with visitors.
CREATING UNEXPECTED PARTICIPATION AT A SEMINAR
An accounting firm wanted to highlight its focus on the technology sector, so it conducted some research about research and development tax credits among its target audience and invited them to a seminar to hear the results.
However, the delegates did not expect to participate in a case study which was conducted by four technology specialists from the firm and a friendly law firm. This involved delegates being split into four groups, each aiming to solve a problem relating to protection of intellectual property.
Each group elected a spokesperson who presented a brief summary of the group's solution. These presentations were judged by an independent panel formed from Clients.
The feedback was very positive as most delegates just expected presentations of the research findings. The case study really livened up the proceedings and the seminar was repeated in the following year in another sector with similar results.
Clients expect innovation from their suppliers, even in proposals. An example of how some firms do this is in the way that proposals are tailored to the audience. For example, the documentation can be ordered to suit the specific reader, so the financial data and cost-benefit analysis would be in a section marked for the CFO and so on.
Innovative Contact Strategies
Global firms have an opportunity to provide responses to Client queries around the clock through the application of mobile technology. Many firms are investigating the possibility of providing 24/7 contact, showing the strength and accessibility of their network.
CREATING A SCENARIO ACTED OUT BY CLIENTS AND PROSPECTS
An accounting firm launched a report on white collar fraud and ran a series of road shows around the UK to share the results with interested parties from private, public and not-for-profit organisations. It was decided to produce a profiling tool to help people with responsibility for fraud prevention to benchmark their approach against their peers.
A case study was created featuring a board meeting where the CEO had received a tip off from a local journalist that fraudulent activity was occurring in the company. Five delegates were selected at the start of the road show to read a brief relating to their particular role on the board. They would act their parts after lunch.
After the lunch break, a time when interest levels usually wane, the case study was announced and members of the audience were asked to observe and make notes as the board meeting occurred. This activity aroused considerable interest. One half of the audience was given guidelines relating to the profiling tool, the other half were not.
After the board meeting it became clear that those in the audience who were briefed had a better idea of the key issues and this led to the acceptance of the profiling tool.
HOW SAVILLS USES INNOVATION
In addition to its CRM approach, mentioned earlier, Savills has embraced things like:
• augmented reality - a virtual fly-through of a scheme depicting various environmental aspects and views of well-known landmarks;
• 3D printing of a building rather than the traditional modelling;
• joint service line offerings;
• providing a Client extranet facility to share financial and other data.
Richard Crook - Savills
Innovative Firms Attract Clients
Innovation explains how professional services firms must continually find new, innovative ways of doing things for their Clients. Clients increasingly expect this. By its very nature, innovation brings out the creative nature in people and those firms who engage their talent in this way will always be sought after by Clients.
Innovations that Impact Clients
CLIENT MANAGEMENT REVIEW QUESTIONS
To what extent:
1. Do you try to create innovative Client solutions wherever possible?
2. Do you have a process for evaluating innovative ideas in your firm?
3. Do you have regular discussions about new approaches and ideas?
4. Do you reward innovative ideas that lead to new business?
5. Do you encourage and train your employees to be more innovative?
6. Do you regularly ask your Clients if they feel that your firm is innovative?
7. Has the firm won awards for innovative Client service?
8. Do you regularly introduce new services for your Clients?
9. Is innovation part of your firm's culture?
10. Has your firm won awards for innovative marketing campaigns?
These questions also form the basis of the Innovation section of your Client Management Profile™, which can be found in Chapter 15.