Through the eyes of the clients

11 December 2014 by Adrienn Toth

Seeing yourself through the eyes of others.

This article is not about some new technology that allows you to read minds (yet) but given time I am sure technology will take us there in the future. I am going to focus rather on perceptions. Since taking responsibility for the UK business development team at Kroll Ontrack my main priority has been to get out and see as many prospective clients as possible, seeking to understand what it is they need when it comes to electronic evidence services and legal technology. Along the way, I have taken the opportunity to gauge the perceptions they have about ediscovery generally and about Kroll Ontrack and whether there is a need to refine what it is we are offering and our message to the legal and corporate market. It has been great that so many lawyers and in house counsel have been willing to have frank conversations about how decisions to work with external experts come about and what they look for when selecting the right partner for assistance with electronic evidence. Some of the pertinent messages I’ve picked up on are covered below.

A safe and committed pair of hands for edisclosure.

This certainly isn’t a perception I’d argue with! Whether it’s our team’s technical expertise or eye for detail, we’re viewed as a safe pair of hands by our clients. Having worked with the team for over 6 months I can attest to their professionalism and dedication, especially the project managers who are set very demanding timelines by our clients and whose working hours and responsiveness tend to reflect those they are supporting. Any lawyer or litigation support professional involved in an urgent disclosure exercise will know that there isn’t a great deal of time spent doing anything but working or sleeping during these very intense periods.

Edisclosure technology is not only for the big cases.

This seems to be a common misconception in the market. Along with this is the belief that Kroll Ontrack only works on big projects or cases. There’s no doubt that our clients include some of the largest international organisations and we do often get asked to take on complex and high risk projects. That said, I see the same level of diligence given to more routine forensic investigations and edisclosure projects involving much smaller amounts of data as I do for projects for these larger customers. Similar industrious efforts are made across the UK and EMEA to educate and assist those firms looking to enhance their knowledge of electronic evidence and case management options. This is epitomised by the fact that we’re always keen to offer free initial consultation in any case where guidance may be required and regularly host free training seminars to ensure our clients are aware of the growing importance of the electronic discovery technologies and expertise that companies like ours offer.

It isn’t always expensive.

Technology advances at an exponential pace and data volumes and types continue to grow. The technology to handle electronic evidence has kept pace and the costs associated with collecting and processing data have fallen considerably over the course of the last 5 to 10 years. Downward pressure has obviously also been exerted on ediscovery prices across the industry as the market grows and new companies enter the electronic evidence industry. In the eyes of our customers Kroll Ontrack retains respect because we have a long established presence in the market and I say with pride yet humility that we’re often viewed as a breeding ground for the best talent in the industry.

During my recent conversations with clients, prices have inevitably formed part of the discussion and I’m confident that our rates remain extremely competitive. In response to the pressures our law firm clients face from their corporate clients, and the pressure generally on legal budgets, we aim to be extremely flexible in terms of the pricing models we have to offer. We always strive to build edisclosure proposals based on fairness and transparency for our clients. Many of the clients I have seen recently hadn’t appreciated the level to which we’ve adapted to the changing market.

It’s all about trust.

I suppose the overarching message is, as in any competitive industry, that trust, relationships and consistency are by far the most important factors when it comes to choosing providers. The nature and complexity of data means that you rarely have all of the information about what you’re dealing with until you start to work on a project, but in order to carry out the work there must be some kind of commercial arrangement in place. When the veil of the unknown is gradually lifted after work begins, it’s crucial that the client is kept abreast of every twist and turn along the way, especially when it impinges on cost. A classic example in our business is where the data volumes received do not reflect that which we were expecting from the client, often due to data being decompressed when processing the information.

This are areas that I am keen to ensure are in line with client’s requirements and expectations. There are multiple individuals within our team involved on a particular project ranging from those on the front line dealing directly with the client to the more technical personnel tasked with handling the data – we aim to have all of these stakeholders working with the client always in the forefront of their minds.  So much of our work comes about through referrals and if a client has had a good experience with a particular project manager it’s important they continue to work with those with whom they feel comfortable on future cases. The UK team are based in a single building on Farringdon St. in London and we offer a fantastic ‘joined up’ experience for our clients. This also applies to cross border engagements. We have frequent meetings with colleagues across the globe and work very closely with our consultants to ensure a cohesive international approach when our work requires it.

We’ll continue to listen to our clients and hope to continually enhance their experience handling ediscovery. That’ll do for this week! If you have any comments I would love to hear from you.