Growing Client Accounts With Tablet Apps
“We Need An App!” This has been a consistent cry from partners in law firms around the world over the past few years. Unfortunately, those who were tasked with this jumped a little too quickly without understanding their audience and the purpose of an app. In most cases, apps were built that essentially reflected content that could be found on the corporate website and were launched in haste, without being updated regularly or adding any value. These apps were not ‘sticky’ and gave the target audience little reason to return. The results of these experiments were costly apps that failed to truly connect with the targeted audience. As business development tools these were a fail, but at least these initiatives were a start in exploring how firms can adopt mobile as a tool and channel. Though, how can law firms harness the power of the tablet?
The growth in tablet technology for the enterprise is truly explosive. Research by digital ad agency Vertic predicts enterprise tablet adoption will grow by almost 50% per year, and by 2015, mobile app development projects will outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4-to-1! These are facts that can’t be ignored by professional services firms and mobile is now well and truly on the agenda. However, most firms’ initial mobile strategies have been focused on client adoption, when the focus should be business adoption. Your most captive and receptive audience is your own workforce, so let’s equip them with mobile tools that empower them to engage effectively with clients and generate new revenue opportunities.
Law firms produce substantial amounts of marketing and business development collateral but much of it is inaccessible, out of date or not in easily-consumed formats. Tablet technology is rapidly changing how proprietary marketing and business development content is shared and leveraged to internal and external audiences.
Forward-thinking firms have recognized this and are placing mobile high on the agenda and revising their strategies, or formulating one if they haven’t before. One part of the puzzle is the device strategy - how to secure, deploy and manage smartphones and tablets (both personal and firm-owned devices). The other piece is the application strategy - deciding on the enterprise apps that are most relevant for achieving the firm’s objectives and what mobile platforms these need to cater for (iOS, Blackberry, Android etc.). IT teams will push for firms to adopt enterprise apps that mobilize internal processes and improve efficiencies. However, a higher priority whilst the competitive window is open should be using enterprise tablet apps as tools for growing client accounts and acquiring new clients. We are calling this ‘business development enablement’.
In the age of the internet, most firm-wide marketing collateral is stored as electronic files in difficult to access and immobilized intranets or file storage systems. These are hardly encouraging for an attorney who is trying to prepare and rally their team for a big business development meeting with a key client. If they are out of the office, it is even more difficult to access and share the right information. Many still use their own personal decks or carry with them the printed materials that the firm has produced, which is often out of date the day it is published. Even though many partners prefer print, it is high cost and low usage, or ‘low viewage’ to be more accurate. Your target audiences are now much more likely to consume content on a mobile device than print. Your firm’s business development and marketing content (brochures, case studies, client briefings, press releases and deal memorandums) must be mobilized. Fee earners need to be able to access collateral quickly and easily on the devices where they are both consuming and sharing marketing content.
So why should your firm deploy an enterprise tablet app for marketing and business development enablement?
Fee earners can access knowledge outside their area of expertise
Most fee earners are experts in a particular area of the law and may not be able to confidently convey the firm’s experience or track record in other areas, where potential opportunities may arise within an existing client. A tablet app empowers a fee earner to quickly access relevant collateral with a couple of swipes, so opportunities are captured at the time they arise.
Have everyone singing from the same hymn sheet
Using a centrally managed and distributed app ensures the whole client facing organization is using consistent and up-to-date collateral that has been made available by marketing, business development and knowledge teams.
A Branded Experience
Your firm-branded app will produce a positive and focused brand experience for both the user and client. An app is a concentrated place with no distractions and also brings stagnant collateral to life by giving it an extra dimension that cannot be achieved using printed or static web pages.
Access marketing or business development collateral, anywhere, any time
An enterprise app for business development can store and present any digital asset that the firm has produced. Documents, presentations, video and audio can all be consumed, shared and even presented over a coffee or on a screen, in a client-facing meeting. A tablet enterprise app with a well-designed user experience also requires little or no training for fee earners and business development teams, meaning user adoption is rapid.
Collaboration around clients, matters and opportunities
Apps can be rolled out to multiple devices across the firm, allowing fee earners and business development teams to all share and collaborate around client meetings and opportunities.
Gain a competitive advantage through innovation
Impression is everything. Using the latest mobile technology and software can enhance the face-to-face engagement with a client or prospect and subsequently improves the perception of not just the individual expert, but the firm itself. Even though a firm’s reputation may rely on history, using a tablet and enterprise app to market demonstrates that a firm is progressive, innovative and employing technology to deliver results.
Are you behind or ahead?
There is a vast contrast between where law firms are with their mobile strategy. One major AMLAW 100 firm purchased iPads for its entire 1,000 strong workforce back in 2011. This was a bold move back then, but this was real foresight as the firm now understands the usage of these devices for the enterprise, which is not just to be more efficient, but to consume and share information and knowledge both internally and externally. For those of you who are reading this and are a little concerned that your firm is behind in its pursuit of mobile, consider this - I met with a senior marketing executive of a Global AMLaw20 firm in the latter half of 2012. When I asked if they were considering their mobile strategy, I was told in no uncertain terms that, “We are at least three years away from looking into mobile”.