- How, for three fundamental reasons, CRMs are not designed for lawyers:
- Human nature: lawyers are not sales people driven by KPIs and sales funnels
- Time spent entering data
- Ownership of client relationships
- Can a CRM be built/implemented around the firm’s practice management system? Are there pitfalls and missed communication and business development data if you do?
- Emergence of legal tech providers and how the collaboration between legal tech providers and law firms benefit by identifying and co-developing systems or bespoke solutions to achieve or solve problems. And can one system satisfy the needs for the whole firm?
- How relationships with the software provider, and in turn acceptance and longevity of a system, hinges on the relationship with the provider; how do you extract value from the legal tech provider?
Connect with Steve:
Steve Tyndall: If you Google what does CRM stand for, you should get a response that says something along the lines of customer relationship management. And I don’t think that law firms are aspiring to have customers. I think in the true sense of the word, they have clients. They have deep relationships. They’re not transactions. So that’s not to say that a firm that’s selling a transactional based or commoditized style of work wouldn’t benefit from more of a CRM. But that in the end, I think that the subtleties and while they seem subtle actually added up to big differences.
Speaker 1: Welcome to Professionally Challenged. War stories from leaders driving change in law firms. Your hosts are Rob Patterson of Parkins Lane Consulting Group and Paul Evans of Toro Digital.
Paul Evans: Welcome to another episode of Professionally Challenged. Today we’re joined with Steve Tyndall who is the founder and director of Client Sense and NextLegal. Firstly, Client Sense is a business development and relation intelligence solution for professional service firms. It helps law firms, in particular BD teams, track who knows who within the firm, which is very advantageous from a pursuits perspective, but it also ensures that key clients or referrers aren’t neglected by notifying people within the BD team if someone hasn’t messaged them in awhile for email. His other business, NextLegal, provides independent legal technology advice and support for practice management system selection. Prior to setting up both Next Legal and Client Sense, Steve worked as the head of IT at McCullough Robertson and Lander & Rogers. Welcome to the show, Steve.
Steve Tyndall: All right. Thanks very much, Paul.
Paul Evans: Okay, so a bit of background. Steve and I met through ALTA, which is the Australian Legal Tech Association, and Rob the other cohost. Steve and I were recently discussing CRM systems at ALTACON, their national conference in Melbourne and thought it’d be a great idea to run an episode on CRM systems in law firms. Now, all three of us have come from in house roles, whether it’s as a COO, a head of IT, or a head of marketing. And as such, we’ve all been through our fair share of CRM projects in law firms.
Steve Tyndall: Oh, yes.
Paul Evans: We’ve obviously interviewed providers in this space, whether they’re specific to law or not, and quite frankly, we’ve never seen them work. So whilst it’s not ideal to start on a negative, we’ll cut to the chase, Steve. Why do you think CRM is often so ineffective in law firms?
Steve Tyndall: All right. All right. Look, I think here, Paul, there’s a couple of different ways this could be answered. I think there’s a short version and a little bit of a deeper response to that. Look, in short, I think really what it comes down to is that the vast majority of lawyers are just simply not going to enter the data into a CRM that needs to make it work. So that’s my one I guess, or as simple as I can put it. But then again, I think there’s actually some deeper and interesting interconnected sort of reasons as to why that’s the case. So I look at it and can’t get past the fact that laws firms are of course well-connected. They’re full of experts. They’ve got a lot of expert professionals in there that hold strong, deep, and trusted relationships. So it’s an interesting space in that it’s no wonder that law firms have tried or persisted with CRM systems for so long because I think benefits of achieving it are quite large if that can be achieved.
Steve Tyndall: So I similarly have been through a number, like we talked about, I’ve been through a number of CRM projects where they have I guess failed to really deliver on the results that they intended to. But I think that firms have had the right intention for a long time. I just really think that the systems haven’t been designed around lawyers. And I think there’s a couple of different ways or three different ways that I view this. I think that there’s a human nature aspect to this. So I think that what we’ve got is lawyers that are simply not salespeople or wanting to be salespeople, so they don’t have their monthly KPI of cold calls. They’re not focused on a pipeline as such. They’re not doing a lot of the things that typically a CRM system has been designed around. So it’s been designed around salespeople and I guess to a-
Paul Evans: Is that … and-
Steve Tyndall: Go on.
Paul Evans: Sorry to interrupt, but is that … most salespeople have … that is their role. They basically go in, sell, and then someone else delivers the service whereas obviously a commercial law firm, there isn’t that kind of aggressive and constant selling and it’s not part of the role.
Steve Tyndall: Yeah, I think so. I think that one of the components here is that simply if you’re measured on billings and not so much on KPIs around sales. So I for one would say that CRM systems, if you look at the big systems, whether it’s Salesforce or HubSpot or any number of these systems, they’re not bad systems. They’ve been designed for a purpose. They’re designed to support sales teams and they do that quite effectively. But I think that the aspect that that’s being overlooked here is that in a law firm, you don’t have a true sales team. It’s not to say that lawyers can’t sell. And I think that’s probably a whole other podcast in itself. I think the lawyers can sell. I think that they’re the expert-
Paul Evans: Well, obviously. Yeah.
Steve Tyndall: Yeah. They’re trusted. They’re all of those things that I actually think a salesperson aspires to be. But in the end, these CRM systems are designed and honed around what is someone that comes in and wants to drive and use that system as their core system where a lawyer is using their matter or document management system as their core system. So I think there’s subtleties in there. And I even think the acronym in itself. So if you look at … if you Google, what does CRM stand for, you should get a response that says something along the lines of customer relationship management. And I don’t think that law firms are aspiring to have customers. I think in the true sense of the word, they have clients. They have deep relationships.
Steve Tyndall: They’re not transactions. So that’s not to say that a firm that’s selling a transactional based or commoditized style of work wouldn’t benefit from more of a CRM. But in the end, I think that the subtleties and while they seem subtle, actually add up to big differences. I’d also say that looking at how the time that a lawyer has. A lawyer doesn’t have a lot of time to be entering data into a CRM database. So even if the intentions were there, I think that that would also be another challenge.
Steve Tyndall: And thirdly, which you’re going to get open up into a whole other podcast in itself, but I see that the lawyers have call it ownership around a relationship. And I think that there’s subtleties and often the relationships are deep. They’ve been forged over years. So I don’t think that the lawyers really want the firm trying to transpose, call it that relationship, into a database and dumbing that down into something that can be put into a note or something like that. I think there’s more to those relationships. So even if we could solve the first couple of challenges there, I still think you’re left with the fact that lawyers want those relationships to be respected. And I don’t think that they feel they’ll be respected if you’ve got teams around them that are basing or gauging that relationship off a couple of entries into a CRM system.
Rob Patterson: Highly agree on all of those. And I might pick up on the last one in a second, Steve. One of the things that I’ve been candid … in today’s world of technology, people try to avoid redundant data. They try to have everything integrated. But one of the … and I’m interested to know if you’ve seen this. But one of the things that I’ve seen a couple of times is firms try to build this CRM on top of their practice management system. And again, they’re entirely different based on their design for two totally different things. And so you just end up populating your CRM with a whole heap of crap.
Steve Tyndall: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Patterson: Is there anything there? Or was it just something unique to the firms that I’ve worked with?
Steve Tyndall: Yeah. Look, to be honest, the way that Client Sense started is we were working with initially with three different firms and what we were looking to do was to prove out or to test whether we could take a data driven approach and what the pros and cons of that might mean. So, Rob, for example, that was one aspect. We’re saying, well what is the integration between the matter related information, whether it’s documents or correspondence in that manner? And how does that come into or where does that interlink with business development and client retention? So we started with a view that that Client Sense may not see light of day. We essentially said three years ago that we were looking to prove something out that may become a product if it looks to show promise and can overcome a lot of the challenges that we’d identified.
Steve Tyndall: So what we found interesting, I guess, in that learning over the years is that taking the relationship or looking at the communication data that’s happening, not just between the client but the contact referrer, there’s just so much information that never makes its way into the practice management system that that would be one of the problems in basing it around the practice management system. And also, if you’ve got juniors working on a matter, and that means that they’re the ones back and forth with the client moreso because they transacting, is that the same? So really what we found is in looking at communication data in call it in isolation, it doesn’t mean we can’t bring fees in and other related things to give context. But certainly as it stands, we were more than I guess surprised by the results of just how much business development intelligence could be drawn just from communication, ignoring matter related information.
Rob Patterson: Yeah, totally. Great. On your last point about partners or senior lawyers having those really tight relationships and while protecting that and not wanting to commit it to a CRM, I wonder whether also … yeah, it can be quite invasive. I’ve been involved with the Salesforce roll out. And yeah, it was really interesting once you start trying to dig a bit deeper and get a bit more rich information to populate Salesforce, there was a lot of pushback. Yeah. Which surprised me at all. But then I think the other thing that dawned on me was that in effect, you’re asking someone who has built this relationship to spend all their time now downloading it.
Steve Tyndall: Yeah.
Rob Patterson: Whereas I wonder whether, like for my relationship management, I use a trolley board. And I just move cards across columns. And it works fantastically well because I’m not having to commit hours and hours to download the information that I have in my head. Or I can just do it. So I wonder whether that’s the other thing.
Steve Tyndall: That’s a really interesting point, Rob. What we were, I guess in looking at the invasiveness I guess of communication data. So what it meant was that was absolutely one of the challenges that we first expected to hit was, okay if we can see that someone has or hasn’t had communication with an external person, is that infringing on someone’s relationship or is it doing something other? What we found is that because we don’t have … first thing we deliberately decided not to do was to read the content of the email. And that was by design because the benefit in doing so almost negated the trust factor from the lawyers within the firm. So what we find is that by having a sense, so if for example, using Client Sense, I understand that Rob and I have met or we’ve had a couple of emails back and forth. Then the respect from the firm is to then understand at a human level, what is that?
Steve Tyndall: I don’t think that can actually be easily transcribed into a system, even with all the time and effort in the world. So what we’ve got is we’ve actually got lawyers saying that I liked the fact that the BD team or other have to come back to me and ask me, “Hey, it looks like you know someone. What do you know?” And it’s almost in the irony here is that despite the level of technology that goes into that, where we’re almost pushing back to coming back to the grassroots of what is very human to human.
Rob Patterson: Yeah. No, I like it. And as you’re saying, at one level it might appear invasive, but it’s just so efficient from the lawyer’s time as well.
Steve Tyndall: Yes.
Rob Patterson: They’re not having to download everything they know and populate fields. It’s just unto them.
Paul Evans: Yeah.
Steve Tyndall: The reality is what do you actually do with that information? Especially if it’s not 100% right. So what do you do with that information that 15 calls were made this month? This was the context of the calls. And this was the context of the emails. I mean-
Rob Patterson: No.
Paul Evans: What BD person has enough time to sort of troll for all, let alone a lawyer?
Steve Tyndall: That’s right. And the other thing, and again, these were all learnings as we went, is we realized that because if something’s data driven, and I for example, do a search to learn, do we know someone at company X? If I find no results in Client Sense, that doesn’t mean well that’s different to no results out of the CRM. In the CRM, that means either we haven’t or someone hasn’t entered it. But when I get no result in Client Sense, I can at least be sure that there’s been no email exchange in the last X number of months or years and from there so I can make a decision. But I think in capturing all of that, there’s almost a view that it’s better to have that information with no effort than it is to, like you point out, Paul, if you entered all this information in and I think you’d be spending a whole lot of time and effort and you still wouldn’t be sure that you’ve captured everything in any case. So yeah, it’s quite an interesting thing.
Paul Evans: So just changing tack a little. One of the hard line viewpoints, which I don’t agree with, is that technology and relationships don’t mix. And I kind of think we’ve I guess proven a little bit but-
Steve Tyndall: You don’t use Tinder there?
Paul Evans: Well, email is still the most commonly used form of communication. And phone calls are usually followed by emails or appointments are set by emails, instructions are often briefed by email. So I think we can safely say that email and relationships mix. And email’s obviously a form of technology. Also, from a marketing perspective, LinkedIn can be incredibly powerful when used properly. And I know that search engine optimization or just search in general and email marketing are still by a long shot the largest source of traffic to law firm websites. So it’s not technology that’s the issue, but it seems that it is CRM. And I guess the way CRM technology is implemented in law firms, that’s the problem. Steve, what are your thoughts around that?
Steve Tyndall: Yeah, look, firstly I would agree that I don’t think relationships and technology are at odds. One of the learnings, which to be honest, took me just too long to realize, but as the head of-
Steve Tyndall: … earnings, which to be honest, took me just too long to realize, but as the head of IT, I didn’t, I guess, understand and here we’re quick to, I guess, have a go at lawyers for their lack of ability, or want to adopt technology. But from an IT point of view, let’s not pretend that we don’t have the best communication skills. It’s fair to say that we might at times not communicate effectively and I think that’s really where things, one area that I thought it was at odds. As I say, it took me a long time to realize that when I was giving say a video conferencing system to a lawyer or to a partner and saying, here you go, here’s a system that will let you meet with someone.
Steve Tyndall: I think what wasn’t explained to them effectively was that it wasn’t to replace, or it wasn’t to be better than an in-person meeting. And no one, at least in my team was implying it was. However, I don’t think we explained that it was really just to supplement where there couldn’t be a face-to-face meeting. It was to provide a meeting platform, which was not meant to be better than meeting face-to-face, but it was certainly there for you when it just wasn’t possible. And so I don’t think that technology and relationships are at odds. I just think they don’t compete. I think that we use technology or should use technology in the absence of that human interaction. That should still be king.
Paul Evans: Makes a lot of sense. Okay. I want to shift the conversation now to marketing and legal tech. So as I said before, we’re both members of [Alter 00:16:29] and many of the other members operate in the space of either practice management systems, or document automation systems, communication systems, et cetera. Very few focus on marketing and the client relationship side of things. For example, building tech that supports client relationships as opposed to, I guess that delivery of legal work. Added to this, you’ve got a legal industry that’s going through some rapid change in itself. Do you think we’re likely to see more entrants in this marketing and legal tech space?
Steve Tyndall: Yeah, I think we will. I think we’ll see a lot of that. And I mean if you really just look at… The fact is that you need the work to have a problem around doing the work.
Paul Evans: Correct.
Steve Tyndall: So it would make sense to me that you would focus your investment around getting work and then how to fulfill it. So I think that in the legal tech space, and I guess even if I broaden that out to professional services, I would say that, yeah, I think there will be a lot more focus on these types of solutions coming in. I think that where it’ll differ though is that I don’t think we’re going to see so much of a product, sort of a specific product offering style of way forward. I think what we’ll be saying is what we are seeing a lot more technology companies working with law firms in order to achieve or solve particular problems.
Steve Tyndall: So really I think it’s that collaboration in doing so that’s really going to explore or that’s where I think the solutions are going to come from. I don’t think that we can expect to see a Microsoft, or someone like that, come into the legal tech space or professional services space offering up solutions, which really actually require that context. And I think that’s where, yes, we will see a lot more entrance, but I think we’re going to see them coming in having deep collaboration or being sort of co-developed with law firms, between firms and providers.
Paul Evans: So Steve, do you see bespoke solutions, so software companies working with actually just one law firm on a particular product to help them with their client base? Or do you mean, is it more like a system that’s going to help multiple firms, like a product, but they’re going to be sort of entrenched. That the ideas are going to actually come from the law firms themselves rather than…
Steve Tyndall: yeah, look, I think that if I’m to be really up front, the some of the best features that we’ve got today in Client Sense, for example, come from law firms.
Paul Evans: Yep, yep, of course.
Steve Tyndall: They don’t come from our developers that don’t come from us ourselves and I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of. I’m actually proud of the fact that they’ve come from business development, or management teams within the firms. So I think that if we expect law firms to be very client centric. We talk about it all the time, there’s a lot of hype around lawyers and law firms being client centric. I think that tech providers are going to need to do that. Also. They’re going to need to stop and get less concerned around their tech and more interested in the solution it provides, or the people it’s there to help.
Steve Tyndall: So from what I can see, I, as I say, I having worked with firms for a number of years. I don’t think that we would have a product as such, if it weren’t for the input from the firms. So my view is that you can’t find niche or you can’t find solutions that really are fit without that understanding. So it’s either… I think there’ll be a couple of things. I think there will be platform, there’ll be certainly a platform play where there’s a certain offering made to firms as a product, and then there’ll be an element of bespoke on top of that where a firm might see a slightly different adjustment to that. But ultimately what we discovered in working with firms is that we, what we were solving, was we’re solving more than the challenges facing just the firms we’re working with alone. It was much broader than that.
Paul Evans: So Steve, your other business, Next Legal provides consulting services to law firms around selecting software, particular PMS systems. I’d like to ask a question about that, but broaden it out a little. So you’ve been an IT manager at two national firms. The legal tech space is obviously changing. So you’ve worked as a software developer, oh, a software company, as an IT manager, and as a consultant. If you were to go back in house though, what would you be looking for from legal tech providers? So what are the key things you’d kind of want to see?
Steve Tyndall: Having had that differing experience and really having worked as a consultant, there’s been a lot that I think I would now look at quite differently. So I know that what was interesting for me is that I’d have providers pitching different software solutions to me on a daily or hourly basis. And what the challenge was is that there was no reward for buying a lot of software. So I didn’t have a KPI that said, please buy 10 new pieces of software every weekend. You get to keep your job. So what was happening is that from an internal point of view, I really wanted solutions. I didn’t want software, believe it or not, I wanted things that could solve the challenges we had. And so what I found really interesting is that, particularly working as a consultant, is that I had a number of different firms that would, excuse me, excuse me. Start again in there.
Steve Tyndall: So what I found really interesting is that I would… As a consultant, I had a lot of firms engage our team to help them choose software. And in helping the firm choose software. Some of the things we had to point out is that the software alone was not really what you’re buying. What you were buying often was the software, the team that supports it, and everything around it. And even though that seemed a little abstract to firms, they were thinking they were buying just the software. The reality, and something that was really interesting, is that the firms that were engaging us to help them choose a new system, when you asked them what was wrong with the current system, what was going on, they’d tell you that the relationship had failed. They didn’t like dealing with provider X, and so there was very much a relationship breakdown there that I found fascinating.
Steve Tyndall: And so then we dig into the system and we’d ask the question, “So what is it that that’s wrong here?” And they might say, “It can’t do function X or Y.” And that sometimes you’d realize isn’t right. You’d say, hold on a minute, I know this software can do that. And you’d ask another firm or you’d ask the provider and confirm. And then I thought, well this will be interesting, when we explain to the firm that’s just engaged us to change systems because it can’t do something, when we tell them it can do that thing. That should be a good answer, right? That should save you hundreds of thousands of dollars and a whole lot of pain. And then what they’d say to us is, “Well that makes it worse. So we’ve been using this provider for 10 years and they’ve never told us it can do that.” What’s really interesting to me is that none of that has anything to do with software, that has everything to do with communication and relationships and other things.
Steve Tyndall: I guess what I think is important, and knowing that the number one reason firms were swapping or changing systems was the relationship. I would really dig into that. And I know that sounds odd if we’re talking about software, but the software, let’s say that there’s a lot of software out there, we’re going through a stage now where we’re just going to have, we’re just going to be drowned in different software solutions. What you really need is you people that can help you get the most from that. Because the reality is that systems, sorry, firms were using, I would say somewhere between probably 20 and 25% of what their systems were capable of anyway. So why are you changing system if it’s got enough head room for you to get more than you need from it? It was because what they really wanted was they wanted people to help make sense of it and actually put it to use.
Steve Tyndall: So I guess really for me, what stood out is that the system itself, the capability wasn’t that relevant. It was how much value they were getting from it. And there were people needed to do that. There were humans needed to intervene and make sure that firms were doing it. So my, I guess coming back to what would I suggest that a firm does, I would suggest that a firm talks to another firm about the support that they get. And I don’t mean do they respond to a help desk query, I mean, does the provider help them extract value? I’ve seen providers now offering unlimited training for their systems and I think that’s a good thing to do. I think that’s where the breakdown is. So really what I would suggest is that firms ask about what the relationship looks like, post-sales. You might have a salesperson say, I don’t know, I normally flick it to someone and I run a mile. But that’s what’s been the problem, I think, is that we’ve got a lot of systems that have been sold.
Steve Tyndall: And I think that because of a software as a service model, we’re moving closer towards a relationship in that, once upon a time you would buy software, you would pay a lot for that license and then you would pay a percentage every year for the updates and maintenance. But that’s not a sustainable model. So you’ve got a lot of older systems out there now that are really not sustainable anymore because of the fact that they don’t derive enough revenue from their existing clients to make it worth servicing them properly. If that makes sense? I think there’s, so what I think software as a service has done, is actually yes, it’s on demand, it’s all those things, but it should encourage the right behavior, and the right desire from both parties.
Rob Patterson: In terms of the service that you have for practice management systems, are there certain criteria or filters you use? So like firm size, is that an issue?
Steve Tyndall: Yes, absolutely. So the size of firm is probably one of the most important things when it comes to choosing a relevant system. And that’s because you simply can’t create a system that is going to fit for a small firm and a large firm. They’ve got very different needs, and also practice areas. Because there’s a bit of a joke in the IT management space, but everyone was looking for a one size fits all approach. But what you’ve got in the end was a one size fits no one, so you didn’t even keep one group happy. So I think what we’re going to see is, we’re going to say software specializing into its right space.
Steve Tyndall: So in my mind, it’s not likely that you’re going to have a system that supports high end advisory work and also commoditize work in another area. So for me, we’re going to see a lot of systems that are honed in on those different scenarios, and look, that makes life a little bit harder for IT in that you’re going to have more systems than you’ve probably had before. And they’ll need integration. But if they’re the right systems, and then they can be integrated. And I think that that’s the way we’ll definitely be moving.
Rob Patterson: So does the firms IT roadmap, for want of a better term, also play a role. You might have firm A, that’s sort of a very agile boutique firm, they’re wanting to be totally in the cloud, and they’re all remote or distributed, as opposed to firm B, which is a mega firm, does work that involves Commonwealth secrets and they can’t, it’s still got to be that sort of wide area network rather than in the cloud. Do those sort of things impact on it as well?
Steve Tyndall: They do, yeah. Look there is a lot, in the end there’s a lot of different aspects that need to go into it. But again, I would always say that, probably focusing less on, call it say cloud, and more on remote access or more on what I actually need. So if I need mobility, if I need to enter time in a mobile fashion, or I need to get access to documents. So I think in taking just that step back, one at a business layer, what is it we’re trying to do? Do we need to work with clients? Do we have people working from all different parts of the world? All these things come into it. And I think that I see a lot of firms, actually I do see a lot of firms saying they want to be cloud for no other reason than they want to say they’re cloud, thinking that that would mean they’d attract the right staff and the right clients. I don’t tend to agree that that would be a point of differentiation.
Steve Tyndall: But in fact, look, if you looked at the benefits of cloud, I would agree. If you said these are the things I’m looking to achieve, but I do see a lot of firms, probably to your point, Paul, around the whole PR stunts, and whatnot, that go on with legal tech. I think that if you come back and focus on what it is you’re trying to do, then what tends to happen is the software will follow. But on your point, Rob, I think there’s definitely different size systems and different systems that are better at certain things. And you’re not really choosing the best system, if I’m to be blunt, you’re choosing the best system for you. So there is no best system. You were just trying to choose the one that fits your own needs, and that was the consulting piece. Yeah.
Rob Patterson: I have one final question on practice management systems.
Steve Tyndall: Yeah.
Rob Patterson: Well, I hope you answer this correctly.
Steve Tyndall: Wow.
Rob Patterson: Which is code for what I believe anyway. Several times I’ve had firms that I work with, say that they want to give their client total transparency around, with and billings, and a client portal, et cetera, et cetera. I’m yet to find a client that actually really wants that. It they-
Rob Patterson: … a client that actually really wants that. If you put it to them, to a client that will give this, of course they’ll say, “Yes, that’s good.” But then the amount of uptake by clients is abysmal.
Steve Tyndall: All right. So on your point, I a number of years ago went into the exercise of looking at for all the times we tended, for all the times we put forward the idea that we would give a portal, then we reviewed this, that, and the other, so we would do a whole lot of effort to ensure that the client had that. And then in reality when you looked at the logs, you’d go, “Ooh, hold on. This is not quite being used as intended.” And is that okay? Because we still won the work. I mean, that’s what’s the point of it?
Steve Tyndall: But, look, in reality, I tend to agree. I think that if you are offering your client something that only transfers the work back to them, then I think it’s not going to work. And I see that what I don’t like hearing is a firm saying, “We tried a portal. It didn’t work because we served up documents online and then had them have another set of username and passwords that they’d go in and download.” And you realize it was easier for the client to contact the firm and say, “Hey, can you send that document?” And it came back within 15 minutes anyway. So-
Rob Patterson: It was the right version and-
Steve Tyndall: That’s it. So if you’re not actually solving something that’s important to them, I would say, look, I have seen it work. Landon Rodgers did a great job of that even at the time when I was there. So that was for a particular key client, I’ll say. This was not a short-term approach of every client needs this. But certainly where there was a deep client relationship and I guess the conversation was had to discuss what is it you need? What would make sense? and all of that.
Steve Tyndall: But yeah, I’m a little bit cynical around the idea that we will also complete transparency. And that’s actually what the client wants. And even if they say they want that, will they use that, as you say, as another question? So I’d really be looking to, again, go back to the beginning and go, “What is it we’re trying to solve here?” not what we can provide. And then is there a way this can help sell our services?
Rob Patterson: Correct answer.
Steve Tyndall: Good. I wasn’t sure about whether that was what you wanted to hear or not.
Paul Evans: Steve, as discussed, you’ve been in-house as an IT manager. You’ve acted as a consultant to law firms. And now you’ve founded a software company. What would you say the main differences between each role?
Steve Tyndall: Look, I found each have got their own challenges. I was a critic of the providers when I was the buyer. I really was. I remember thinking they had nothing better to do than to hound me about whether I’d be signing for something or not. And they never seemed to ask me the question, “How can I help you? What are your challenges?” They seemed to be asking, “How can we get this deal across the line?”
Steve Tyndall: And so that was sort of my experience, at least, or how it worked for me on the inside. So, look, I think then moving to a consulting role was really, to be honest, though, I think there was a massive amount learnt there because that’s where what I was able to do was actually to work with a firm around what they need and then bringing different providers in with the benefit of listening to what the provider was offering and then at the end of it, here you had the firm that perceived it, so what they saw the offering to be, which was fascinating, so just being able to understand. And so what, again, like it or not from an IT point of view, but very rarely would a firm be choosing one I would say was necessarily the best tech. So I’m looking at it as the advocate, saying, “Look, I’m here as a consultant to help you choose software.”
Steve Tyndall: And I wouldn’t say they were choosing the best tech or preferencing the best tech every time. Sometimes there was preference given to the way in which it was presented or all these other things that just were really interesting learnings around how easy the provider was to deal with. Would they come in and meet you on site? Would they do it remotely? All these things, you’d be surprised how much they played into a firm’s decision around the their software. So that was interesting in itself.
Steve Tyndall: And then as a provider, I guess what I wanted to do was really take what I’d experienced and learned and try not to do some of those things and to try to do some of the other things. So it might be no surprise that the Client Sense doesn’t have a lock-in contract, because I hated nothing more than having to sign up for three years on software almost sight unseen. I might’ve looked at it three or four times. That’s okay, but sight unseen.
Steve Tyndall: And we’d end up with shelfware: We’d literally end up with software that we committed to buy. And so I guess from a relationship experiencing also that the relationship was why people were leaving their tech providers. And then I don’t think a three-year commitment actually encourages the right relationship either. I wanted to make sure-
Paul Evans: Yeah.
Steve Tyndall: Yeah, we wanted to make sure that we were delivering on merits and that the firm could walk at any point, not because they … or hoping they wouldn’t. And our job is to keep them. And I think that that shift is something that I brought through and had to bring through in terms of being then a software provider. But I’m also quite aware of the fact that it’s not just the software that they’re buying. So I think they’re very different. But probably one of the most fascinating things is how they interplay.
Steve Tyndall: I think that there’s a need for that to come together. Think whilst we’ve got providers on one side of the fence, we’ve got law firms on the other, and either the provider and/or the client or the firm not understanding really what the client wants, I think it’s a recipe for disaster. So I think that there’ll be more of that intertwining of those roles. And I think that providers are going to need to be, as I said earlier, a bit more or a lot more collaborative and be prepared to go in and understand what the firm is really trying to solve, not just for software. And I think that that’s, when that happens, I think we’re going to see ane explosion of real innovation, not marketed rubbish innovation.
Rob Patterson: Okay, Steve. Just got a lightening round of questions just to get a little bit more of an insight into. So-
Steve Tyndall: Dangerous. Very, very …
Rob Patterson: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Steve Tyndall: I think, look, I’ve probably received a lot of advice that I hold onto, but a friend and consultant that we’ve used, Justin [Bowler 00:36:37], I think because he was a friend, he was able to deliver this quite bluntly. When he started working with us around Client Sense and developing that up and commercializing it, he got me to step through what it is and how it all works. And I think as a tech guy, I gave him a bit of a, “And we think it’s so wonderful. And look how cool this is,” and all the rest.
Steve Tyndall: And he just looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t think anyone gives a crap about your tech. How does it help?” And to be told that as a tech provider I think is fantastic. I think it’s true. I think everyone needs to remember that. And I’m the same. I don’t think that there’s any loyalty for the tech or any care for how it works. There’s no pat on the back for that. So I’d say just remembering that no one actually cares about what you do but how it helps them.
Rob Patterson: Yeah. Good advice. What was your first ever job?
Steve Tyndall: So I grew up in a small town in Victoria. So at the age of 15, I’d worked after school at a local supermarket, carrying the groceries out to people’s cars with them. So you’d imagine you’ve got a lot of elderly people who would come into town. And the owner and friend of our family would always tell me that people came into town to socialize and to buy groceries while they were there, not the other way around.
Steve Tyndall: So he didn’t mind how long it took me and took me to walk the lady to the car or whatever it may be. And if she stopped to buy raffle tickets along the way and my arms were nearly dropping off but she’s happily buying a ticket and has a chat to everyone along the way, he saw that as part of the service. And so yes, that was my first job, but I think that taught me a lot around service and what it took to run a business. He’s a very smart business man. He wasn’t giving anything away. He knew how to do it.
Rob Patterson: You had a very early introduction to relationship marketing.
Steve Tyndall: Oh, I think so.
Rob Patterson: That was tremendous. If somebody knew you really well, what’s the one thing that they would know about you that others may not?
Steve Tyndall: Now, I’m assuming your listeners are not judgmental and therefore I can say what I need to say.
Rob Patterson: No, we don’t judge.
Steve Tyndall: If no one judges, then I can be honest. Look, I’m actually a huge Lego fan. I have been my whole life. And from time to time, or my wife might say more often than that, but I like to purchase a large Lego kit. And when I build that, I really enjoy the build process. I enjoy just stepping through it. It’s a cathartic sort of experience.
Steve Tyndall: And so, yeah, that’s probably one thing that I don’t lead with, as you imagine. But it is true. And, yeah, so I could’ve said I enjoy my mountian biking, which is true, but more people would know that. So no, I do in fact like a large Lego build.
Rob Patterson: Thank you for your candor. And it’s probably a few amateur psychologists out there working their way through that. Can you nominate another legal industry radar that you hold in great respect that you think we should try to talk to?
Steve Tyndall: Yeah. Look, I think I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by people a lot smarter than me and a lot of people that I would actually recommend. I listen to your podcast. I know Joel [Broski’s 00:39:54] already been suggested. And I think he’d be a great person to talk to. Another one, then, would be Anne-Marie David, the CEO of the College of Lore. I think she’s a fascinating lady. She’s got a lot of insights into the legal industry and a lot to do with how junior lawyers will be working through up the system. And I think it’s quite a fascinating space.
Steve Tyndall: And the other one, James Rimmer of Cooper Grace Ward, we’ve worked with him for a number of years, and I find him to be a very … or a huge wealth of knowledge and a great guy.
Rob Patterson: Great. Thank you very much. If you could lead any company in the world other than Client Sense or Next Legal, which would that be?
Steve Tyndall: So given I’ve already declared my cards on this, I’d love to lead Lego. And the reason for that is because they’ve got a fantastic brand. I think they’ve got amazing loyalty. They’re a fascinating story in that they’ve always been, for a long time they were family-owned, and then they had a non-family member CEO come in and turn the business around.
Steve Tyndall: But I also think, and you’d wonder why as a technologist I’d say that, I would say Lego because I think their challenge is to actually fight against the digital disrupters. So every kid will want to play with an iPad maybe more than a Lego. And I think that’s something that’s quite a challenge for them, but it’s achievable.
Steve Tyndall: And so I look at it and I love what they’re doing with robotics in schools and other things. I think they’ve got something, if they can do it, I think they’ll go or continue to go a long way. But yeah, that would be the company that I would choose.
Rob Patterson: I disagree. I’m sitting her at the dining table looking at a half-complete RV, what looks like a helicopter. I might have to get your assistance to finish them up.
Steve Tyndall: So it was a near and dear admission to you, Rob, then, if you Rob, then, if you’ve got that in your own home.
Rob Patterson: Or to Archer, who hasn’t quite completed them yet.
Steve Tyndall: There we go. So I pretend my kids are into Lego. I’m not sure if they are. But I get to buy them and then “help build them.”
Rob Patterson: Okay, and finally, and most importantly, if listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way to get in touch?
Steve Tyndall: Look, initially LinkedIn if we haven’t … It comes before. It’s always a good way. But, look, any either, LinkedIn or email, I’m not sure whether you’ll put it in there, the comments or so on the show notes-
Rob Patterson: Yep.
Steve Tyndall: If you’ll do that, then email. And, look, to be honest, more than happy and in all ways enjoy chatting with people irrespective of their background and always love to learn more about what others are up to. So I would certainly encourage it. Yeah.
Rob Patterson: Thanks so much for agreeing to come on today, Steve. I wish you the best of success. I think what you’re doing is heading definitely in the right direction. So thank you very much.
Steve Tyndall: Cracking product. Thank you. And thanks so much for having me on the show. I love what you’re doing, and I wish you continued success with it because it’s a good thing, and more of it.
Rob Patterson: Thank you.
Paul Evans: Thanks.
Steve Tyndall: Thanks. Bye.
Speaker 1: Thank you for listening to Professionally Challenged. Visit our website at www.professsionallychallenged.com. And please leave us a review on iTunes. Until next time, bye for now.