Here is a snapshot of how law firms approach the topic of "Experience Management:"
- It's someone else's job - "Put a few people together from IT and marketing and see what you can come up with. Make a recommendation. Don't bother the lawyers."
- Toe in the water - "See if you can find a willing practice group to be our guinea pig."
- Sharing isn't mandatory - "I don't want to share my matter list in case I leave the firm. (Or, because it's in such disarray, I'd be embarrassed if you saw it.)"
- Paralysis - "We have everyone on board. We have no idea where to begin."
- Inclusion - "We want to include every matter from the dawn of time."
- Culture-fixer - "We want the experience database to bring lawyers together so they'll trust each other - so they'll finally cross-sell."
I could go on.
We get asked a lot "Where do we begin?" For experience management NOT to be a flash-in-the-pan "initiative," it has to get the attention of the executive suite. Not a casual glance, but serious attention. It has to be fully aligned with the firm strategy - whatever it is. Below are a few strategic goals and how experience management is aligned with each one.
- Revenue growth - This is the most obvious and popular strategy. Without relevant experience to evaluate, buyers of legal services will not hire you. It's that simple.
- Institutionalize more clients (i.e., grow company relationships) - All firms want to represent organizations in more key areas. To see where you can go, you have to understand where you've been. In terms of knowing all the work you've done in for this client - and getting a full picture of the relevant experience you've done in the targeted new practice areas. Other clients have benefited from your experience - how can you apply that to the clients you want to further institutionalize?
- Build your reputation - There are literally over 1,000 directories and ranking organizations that evaluate law firms and lawyers. Aggregating experience across the firm in advance of the annual Chambers surveys is too often a fire drill, just to name the most ubiquitous one. (Why? We know it happens every year.) Your experience must be elevating and comprehensive - it must be career defining for you to get the reputation boost you are seeking. Strategically plan what you need to collect and create a habit of doing it all year long.
Align with firm strategies first, then lock in your business purpose(s) for your experience database. How will you use it?
- Business development /use in pitches and proposals
- Provide data for surveys, rankings, directories
- Lateral hiring - to quickly integrate laterals into the firm and help your lawyers learn about their strengths
- Knowledge management / practice management / project management
Remember that perfect is the enemy of good when it comes to experience management. Too many firms are trying to build the perfect tool that does everything - and it never gets launched. Or, it's so unwieldy and complex that lawyers won't use it - and you've now blown your opportunity to build a strategic system that will support their revenue, relationship and reputation goals. The "Marketoon" below was created by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne. We have been in meetings that looked just like this. Too often, it hinders and hurts the end result - resist the temptation to feature-stuff.
Experience Management | Marketoonist | Tom Fishburne