Former Thomson Reuters Elite EMEA sales head and CTS chief commercial officer Peter Gill has joined client lifecycle management platform Engage Solutions Group, which was acquired in 2016 by a team led by Rekoop founder Phil Wedgwood and is expanding its horizons from industry to the professional services sector.
Gill joins both CEO Wedgwood and chief technology officer Phil Ashworth, who held the same role at Rekoop: you’ll recall that Rekoop, which was founded in 2008 and provided ahead of its time cloud-based time capture software to 26 of the UK top 200 law firms, was acquired by Intapp in 2016.
Engage was founded in 2014 as an employee app and since 2015 has had sales across blue chips in retail, transport, and health – clients include Ford Retail, Veolia, Allied Bakeries, the NHS and, perhaps the icing on the cake, Liverpool Football Club. Gill joins to help spearhead the professional services sector launch and he told Legal IT Insider: “We’ve been speaking to trusted people in legal about the client lifecycle – not just the matter lifecycle. The question is how do you upsell, resell, cross-sell and create a referral program, how do you reward loyalty?”
He said: “Other businesses are communicating better, high value social media-based content. Then you have to look internally at colleague engagement: how easy is it for employees – not just fee-earners – to self serve things like holiday requests, payroll, learning and development, one-to-ones and welfare?
“Firms work in siloes: how do they manage process improvement and change. Do they have the ability to gather feedback? There is a newer generation of people listening and learning and encouraging them to do things differently. How can they make sure they are attracting and retaining talent? This is about helping the client experience and internal engagement by bringing it to life.”
The Engage Solutions architecture is a mobile-first app at the front which provides the ability to message internally and with clients with “bits of Instagram, bits of YouTube, bits of Facebook, and bits of WhatsApp messaging.” Who are the competitors? “There are no other vendors,” says Gill. In the next release will be Snapchat style augmented reality to enhance communication and learning.
Wedgwood says: “For me, having stepped out of legal for two years what’s nice is that we’re not a legal vendor anymore, we go across all the key sectors and are looking to launch in professional services. So far it’s been a real breath of fresh air and what’s interesting is that coming back into the sector the same vendors are still doing the same things.”
He adds: “We are sector focussed and have invested heavily back into the sector because we know the subtle nuances that differentiate legal from manufacturing. It’s proven technology but with those nuances.”
The app will provide a feed for push notifications, a L&D portal in which all employees can watch training videos or courses, quizzes, and tests. The events feed will show them what is coming up and the messaging channel, which looks like WhatsApp, means they can share pictures and videos within a firm’s firewall. The ‘connect’ feed is a searchable directory of all employees at the firm and Gill rightly says “many firms don’t know who or how many employees they have.” An awards section enables firms to reward excellent service and can be linked to a rewards scheme. And a news feed delivers personalised news.
What’s interesting is that the app, which has a centralised command and control console called Engage Hub and a multi-purpose API, can surface information from eg the case management system to give the client the ability to check on matter status, make payments, or leave feedback. Whereas some firms are experimenting with Yammer to improve internal communication Wedgwood says: “We have five pillars and Yammer would fit into our comms pillar but it doesn’t integrate and often has low penetration. The challenge with engagement is that it’s typically a mix of disparate points solutions. You need to have a communications strategy that reaches everyone. You can’t rely on points solutions that are matter-driven not client-driven.”
While Wedgwood says that Microsoft Teams is not a competitor for the same reason he adds: “We integrate with the Microsoft stack anyway.” He adds: “We have the ability to connect with all existing systems.”