As chief people officer at UK-based Slater and Gordon, Alicia Alinia has a track record of people leadership, large-scale transformation, and operational change management in legal services. I recently met Alicia to discuss the impact of digital transformation on Slater and Gordon’s core business and operations.
Meg Muran (MM): Alicia, I’m curious – what does “digital transformation” look like in a field as traditional as legal services?
Alicia Alinia (AA): The legal services world has never really gone through the scale of technological disruption we are now facing. Despite regulatory changes in the UK, legal services have still been really well cocooned over the years, providing the same services in the same way. But cloud-based technology has enabled us to consider our industry through a new lens – and to become far more creative about the services we provide.
Specifically, we aspire to transform legal services to make our customer the center of every part of our service. Traditional law firms have a partner-centric mindset – where they view the partners’ profiles as the biggest pull in terms of client attraction. This is part of our shift in mindset to recognize the opportunities in digital transformation. Centering our services around the customer requires massive operational shifts.
MM: How do you mean?
AA: It’s about providing services that are seamless yet responsive to the customer’s needs in that moment, even before we get to the legal system. Digital transformation allows us to be more transparent and available to our customers.
This shift recognizes the customer as the ultimate power in assessing the quality of service they receive. We’re not simply measuring ourselves by tracking our status in the Legal 500 or Chambers, as judged by our industry peers. We’re measuring how well our customers are satisfied with our quality of service, based on what’s most important to them.
In many cases, our customer is unfamiliar with the event they’re experiencing. Even buying a house for the first time can leave a person feeling vulnerable. That vulnerability requires us, as the provider of legal services, to be agile in the way we deal with each request for assistance, such as having the flexibility to meet with customers or their families conveniently where they are – in the hospital, in their homes, wherever they feel safe to talk – not simply in our offices.
MM: That certainly changes the dynamic of the attorney-client relationship!
AA: Absolutely. We have to provide a diverse workforce that brings emotional intelligence to the customer, who has come to us at their most vulnerable time. We are the point of call when they have reached a level of need that requires legal services. So, we strive to create a talented workforce where our people are great communicators who are emotionally intelligent problem-solvers in how they serve customers.
MM: How does Microsoft Managed Desktop fit into this transformation, as you’re rethinking your customer, your services, your talent profile, and your business model?
AA: This transformation requires us to become far more efficient, far more innovative, and far more reachable as a business. As a cloud service, Microsoft Managed Desktop empowers us to secure data, facilitate back-end functions like automation and collaboration, and streamline everyth..., so our people can focus on the unique functions that require emotional intelligence for customer engagement.
Microsoft Managed Desktop gives us a way to make sure we’ve got a much more inclusive workforce. It’s no longer an issue if somebody says, “I’m a returning mom, and I want to do three days a week from home and two days in the office.” Traditionally, that would be an issue, if your security model requires people to be at their desks and behind a firewall every day.
But now we can open opportunities to absolutely any type of workforce. We can meet customers wherever they are and collaborate in real time with colleagues in remote locations. We give our people this lightweight, modern Surface device that boots in seconds and just works wherever they happen to be, protecting highly sensitive customer information all the while.
MM: That’s amazing. It sounds like this digital transformation is affecting the DNA of your legal services.
AA: Traditional law firms are paper-based, sending wordy, long letters, all written in legalese, often including Latin, which can be difficult for a customer to decipher. Modern customers require modern communications – whatever their age – whether it’s by text, face-to-face video, or quick email access. Microsoft Managed Desktop lets us rethink how we reach a customer in the most effective, efficient way.
It enables a whole new concept of how we plan our workforce, the type of people we want to bring on, the type of services we engage, and the type of partnerships we can create across the world. Being “people-centric” means we want to be agile and responsive to the needs of our customer, and that can only happen with a truly innovative technology solution which allows our talent to do the things they are best at.
How is technology supporting – or impeding – “people-centric” operations in your organization? Please share your experience in comments, and contact us for more information about Microsoft Managed Desktop.
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