How Intelligence Gathering Adds Value to the Client-Attorney Relationship?
Co-authored by: legalxsale.ai
How do you make decisions? Be it about your law firm’s growth direction or a better way to serve your corporate clients? Generally, decision-makers follow one of two options — intuition or data. But out of these, only one option yields effective decisions powered by tangible insights. And it’s data.
Intelligence gathering is what revolutionizes companies in a dynamic business environment. Law firms that don’t know how to incorporate data into different aspects of their work — and most importantly, client management — are doomed to failure. The reason is they will simply be unable to weather competition from data-driven businesses that back their actions with facts and metrics, and thus, know exactly what is working and what is not.
Unfortunately, only 34% of companies effectively use data to predict client needs and trends to further improve their bottom line. And this stat is indeed disturbing.
Intelligence sources and methods
It is interesting — yet hardly surprising — that the remaining two-thirds of surveyed businesses cite the lack of necessary data as the most common reason for not using it in their decision-making process, and going with the guts instead. That’s why to create a data-driven environment, law firms must first understand what data is actually helpful for them and how they should use it to drive their business forward.
The amount of data any modern business operates is huge, and it continues to grow by the day. Of course, it is impossible to embrace and process it all. But the good news is that you don’t need to. For the data to have a business-boosting power, it must be relevant to your goals. Otherwise, you risk collecting intelligence that has doubtful reliability and can hardly be acted on.
As the name suggests, internal data comes from all legal tools within your law firm — CRMs, practice management software, tracking, billing, docketing systems, etc. By gathering intelligence about internal processes, it is easy to see where you lag behind in terms of performance and decide on the critical areas for its optimization. This level of understanding is necessary for making your business live up to its full potential.
Client intelligence is collected both from internal and external sources to provide you with a 360-degree view of your customers. The analysis of this data allows you to track the history of their interactions with your brand (either through direct cooperation or response to your marketing campaigns), define where in the sales funnel they currently are, and align your legal offers with the client’s priority needs.
This type of data can help your legal firm make real progress in beating off competition from other — less data-reliant — law offices. By competitive intelligence we mean information about legal market trends, business environment, available rivals, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. You can’t gain a significant edge over others without knowing competitive gaps and building upon them.
Intelligence collection methods
The methods used to collect intelligence vary and generally, depend on the type and amount of data you are gathering. But overall, they can be automated, manual, or mixed.
That said, the basic data collection methods include:
- Document review (internal records, reports, procedures, etc.)
- Marketing analytics
- Social media monitoring
- Brand sentiment monitoring
- Surveys & questionnaires
- Market trends research
This is the minimum intelligence gathering process that every company — no matter the industry — should set up and go through systematically. Otherwise, you won’t be able to discover behavior patterns or spot inefficiencies in your business operations.
Okay, this indeed sounds promising in theory, but how does it improve client-attorney interactions in practice?
5 ways intelligence gathering adds value to client-attorney relationship
Today, the idea of customer-centricity has become fashionable yet essential. To make it flourish in your law firm, you need to know exactly what your client wants and give it to them, instead of relying on what YOU think they want. If you don’t have access to this more nuanced knowledge, you might find it challenging to engage the client and maintain a long-term partnership.
Along with the obvious benefit — which is more personalized legal services — intelligence gathering triggers other less obvious improvements to the client-attorney relationship.
Holistic client view. Ideally, you should have a single source of truth about your client and what has been done for them. The more detail — the better. This level of clarity allows you to leverage the already established relationship, as well as find ways of delivering a more consistent experience, informed by the client’s individual preferences.
Faster query processing & proposal generation. With all that data at your disposal, you can analyze intelligence by any parameter — e.g. type of matter. So once a new client turns to you with a similar request, you can outline an accurate roadmap fast, assemble a competent team, and prepare a pitch supplemented by highly relevant cases and expertise.
Cross-selling of other legal services. Similarly to the above, you can maximize revenue generated from existing clients. When working with segmented client intelligence, it is easy to see patterns like, for instance, how the provided services are interrelated. Say, you’ve noticed that most clients who ask you to handle their divorce case often seek professional legal advice on child custody as well. That’s a cross-selling opportunity. By recommending additional legal services that are indeed helpful to clients, you not only work towards increasing your law firm’s revenue but also drive client loyalty and satisfaction.
Anticipation of the client’s legal risks. The professional client-attorney relationship doesn’t end with case closure. In order to grow the client’s devotion to your law firm, it is essential to stay on top of what’s happening to them or their business at all times and respond fast if there’s a looming legal risk. For this, you need to monitor the publicity surrounding your client, be aware of legal trends in the relevant domain, and spot events that may affect the client. In short, you need to be proficient in collecting client insights and acting on them.
More focused marketing. Data is helpful for attracting new clients as much as it is helpful for retaining the existing ones. Marketing analytics gives you visibility into the leads’ activity around your firm, detects at what stage of the user journey they are now, and thus, allows you to target those showing purchase intent. No guesswork; only meaningful insights that you can capitalize on.
Here’s a one-line conclusion for this section. Data is power; and if you know how to leverage it, staying competitive and efficient will no longer be your number-one concern.
Intelligence gathering tools for smarter & faster results
As a legal practitioner, you can counter all the above said with one simple yet legitimate question: “Why on earth should I spend a ton of non-billable hours on the intelligence gathering process?”
The answer is “You don’t have to.” The beauty of living in a highly digitalized world is that we have an automation tool for almost any activity we perform. So work smarter, not harder.
Since data gathering tools are often powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, they are not only able to process immense amounts of information but they can also analyze it the way a human does. Such tools retrieve data from a variety of sources — be it internal systems or public repositories. When sifting through them, the algorithm recognizes certain correlations and patterns that further serve as a foundation for actionable intelligence such as client insights, behavior forecasts, or risk factors. But most importantly, intelligence gathering tools do it within minutes, saving you from going over the top with non-billables.
Advances in technology allow law offices to be more flexible today. Using task-specific tools, law firms can take appropriate (and informed) actions to improve client experience, practice management, lawyers’ performance — you name it. The basic premise though is to ensure that the tech aligns with your goals and creates value. Otherwise, it will be a waste of money.
If you need guidance on how to choose suitable tech for your law firm, we are here to help. Expertise in technology and experience with legal businesses allow us to do it in the most effective way.