Is technology an enabler or barrier to professional service firms’ success? - New Results

Is technology an enabler or barrier to professional service firms’ success?

I was fortunate to speak at a round table recently exploring technology and the client journey in professional service firms. This particular round table was for SME legal firms.

It was great to hear about how these firms were investing in technology. Also how much resource and time they were dedicating to exploring, implementing and using technology.

In preparing for the event I was reading a report showing that 78% of legal firms have a CRM system in place. CRM is a Client Relationship Management tool to help you manage your client interactions and engagement. That stat is an important one to reflect legal firms really embracing technology. What about the anecdotal feedback I get when working with legal firms? Here’s what I get told (and see how much of this you hear at your own firm):

‘We don’t have time to use that.’

‘All of the data is out of date.’

‘I can’t see why I need to fill it in, I carry all the important client information in my files and in my head.’

‘The CRM doesn’t integrate with any of our other systems so I end up having to duplicate work.’

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

There appears to be a gap between technology implemented and technology adoption in legal (and other professional service) firms

Here is where we see this breaking down.

  • No clear understanding of the ‘why’ for new technology
  • No engagement before new systems and technology are rolled out.
  • There is no support, coaching, management or accountability when systems are (or more likely aren’t) being used.

How do you go about avoiding these common mistakes?

Avoiding these common mistakes that many professional service firms make is easier than you might think.

Taking time to engage the whole team in the ‘why’ discussion. You do this by explaining technology in three specific ways:

  1. Why it benefits your clients
  2. Why it benefits the individual you are speaking to (making it specific to the individuals you are speaking to)
  3. Lastly why it benefits you as a firm.

When you take this approach (client first and benefit to you individually and as a firm last) it changes the dynamics of the conversation. It makes your teams see the client benefit first, and most professionals like to have a ‘client first’ or a ‘client centric’ view.

Addressing technology improvement in professional service firms

To address the challenge around engagement before new systems and technology are rolled out is simpler than you might think. This also means it’s simpler to miss and easy to get wrong. The way to engage your team fully is to involve them fully. Ask them about a part of your process that isn’t as good as it could be and how might you improve it. Then when you have people’s insights you can look at what technology might support you. When you have a technology in mid, get clarity on how it can diminish that negative client experience for you. We use our “Real Client Journey” workshops to tease these ideas and challenges out. We then support our clients to look for technology that will remove barriers and challenges in their client journey.


The last point is around a lack of support, coaching, management, or accountability when systems aren’t being used. This is again a simple one to pick up. Lead by example. You need to show that you are using new tools. You need to ask others how and what is working and what can be improved. Acting as more of a coach in this area, and leading by example can really help your team get on board with a switch to new technology.


By adopting these three simple approaches you will see technology as far more of an enabler than a barrier for your professional service firm. Taking the opposite approach will have you watching the barriers go up (internally and externally).


If you are exploring how technology can become an enabler in your “Real Client Journey” drop me a note for a chat.

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