Global law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer - AKA Freshfields - has embarked on a multi-year transformation strategy with the aim of combining CRM, analytics, events and marketing automation data to enable a better understanding of clients, personalization of those relationships and a better overall customer experience.
To deliver this, the law firm will tap into Salesforce Sales Cloud, Einstein Analytics, Pardot, and Shield. Louis Roman, interim-CMO at Freshfields, says:
We're a global law firm and we do some amazing things for large multi-nationals or big investment banks and some of the best known funds. We do their complex transactions, we help them manage their regulatory issues and we help them also manage their risk. What we're distinctively known for in the market is delivering truly exceptional client services. We bring a bit of an unusual combination. There's lots of pedigree, with a history running back 275 years, but also we're market-disruptive and at the leading edge of many of the markets that we operate in.
There are some very specific challenges that Freshfields needs to address, he explains, not least the need for consistency of service and experience:
We're a large organization. We work for clients all over the world, across different business lines. How do you create an experience for those clients that is really, really rich and consistent in how it's delivered? If you've looked at or think of any of the top brands for customer experience, normally, somewhere in the mix, there is this really important component - consistency. That's a real challenge for law firms because with partnerships you have lots of individuals and we're a very human-heavy business. So how do you get all those individuals to work in the same way and to deliver a level of consistent experience for clients to deliver that premium bill?
The other challenge I see law firms face is often there's a rush and a real focus around what I call the functional elements of client experience. These are things that are really important, they're things that clients say are absolutely essential, things like quality and efficiency and that we've got the capability and the reach, responsiveness, all of those great things. They're not things that set one firm apart from another; they're just simply things that you have to have in place in order to be able to operate at the elite level within our sector.
The challenge is around how do you elevate the conversation and the focus to some of the more nuanced and differentiated things, like how do you create a more transparent organization for clients to be engaged with? How do you help reduce their anxiety and make sure that they have more predictability about what the outcomes of the work that we're doing for them are going to be? How do you give them options? How do you anticipate, look round corners, and think about what their future needs are going to be? The real challenge is moving from those functional elements onto those more differentiated elements.
And then there’s the tension between when to customize and when to standardize, he adds:
This is the interplay between a consistency point and delivering a really premium and bespoke service. We are a premium business, so you have to do a lot of customizing and listening to what your clients needs are, really be tailored to your clients. To deliver a really superior experience, you have to be able to standardize certain components, working out where those different points of value are for your clients. You need to work out when you have to standardize the processes in order to deliver a really slick consistent experience and when you have to customize to deliver that really premium bespoke experience.
The road to selecting Salesforce came via consideration of what now constituted competitive differentiation in the legal sector. Roman says:
For too long within the sector, there was a reliance on certain points of competitive differentiation that I think weren't as client-oriented as the market is today. Things like, you'd had the biggest deal list or that you were in the most locations or that you had the biggest brains. Of course we've got all of those things here, but invariably those traditional points of marketing differentiation have been eroded consistently as competition has gotten tougher and as client demand has moved on.
We now see client experiences as the real key competitive battleground within which we operate. So working that through as a business, we said, 'OK, what do we need to do to compete in this battleground, not just to compete, but be a market leader?' We quickly came to the understanding that we need to have really good quality insights that need to be really real time. They need to really give our people the edge to be able to deliver that really rich experience and to deliver those insights and think about how we aggregate those insights from across the firm as well as drive further insights.
All of this has accompanied a general sectoral pivot back to what Roman calls “being more human”:
I would expect to see more radical levels of openness and transparency within our sector. I still see too much within the legal sector operating as a kind of black box. Clients don't always understand what's going on inside that black box, how outcomes are produced. I think it's going to become much more open and transparent.
Outcomes are going to matter more to clients, he predicts:
When I talk with our clients that's often their focus - what is the outcome? For too long, as a sector, we've orientated what we do, and the value that we create and the articulation of that value, around the inputs...It's not inputs or outputs that the real focus needs to be on; it's probably more around that outcome piece. What do we deliver in terms of that value for clients?
This hinges in part on insights enabling firms to more of a "predictive machine", he suggests:
How do you anticipate what's coming next for your clients and get ahead of challenges that they face, which is pretty acute in some really quite difficult markets at the moment? As a wrapper across all of that, we're all exposed to some really fantastic consumer grade experience experiences as customers. I'm in the office today and I got an Uber into the office. The Uber experience for me is really brilliant, seamless. It's easy, it reduces my anxiety, it cuts it cuts down time wasted, all of those wonderful things.
That kind of consumer-grade experience is actually shaping our clients and the markets needs and appetites for what good experience looks like when working with a global elite law firm. That's part of the evolution that we're going to see in the future - more of those consumer grade level experiences baked into professional services.