The Netflix way: rethinking knowledge management in terms of client experience

by Nicky Leijtens, Innovation Manager, NautaDutilh N.V

What do Netflix, Spotify and Amazon have in common? The answer is short and simple: they offer a behaviour-based, personalised experience through a user-friendly platform and they excel at knowing your interests. The contrast with knowledge management in legal is stark: law firms still seem attached to a one-size-fits- all approach to knowledge sharing, mainly using low interaction tools such as email and newsletters. Looking at the principles behind the success of disruptors such as Netflix, it is time to rethink knowledge, making it a two-way street rather than a dead end – with a clear pay-off in terms of client experience.

In today’s digital world and looking at those successful disruptors, design thinking and platform thinking separate the winners from the losers. Success is about offering a great customer experience and excelling in data-driven content that is tailored to the customer’s interests, with use of insights from psychology and neuro-science. Thriving at customer satisfaction and customer loyalty arises from client centricity, through personalisation, emotional engineering and making the most out of big data and technology.

Despite these big advances, knowledge sharing by law firms seems to be stuck in the past, with little attention to the varying needs and preferences of different clients. It still seems to be about showcasing expertise and book smartness through commoditised, one-size-fits-all emails and newsletters, while clients are already drowning in information and emails and starving for effective ways of keeping track of relevant information. Too often, knowledge sharing is focused on putting the information out there instead of offering an optimal (learning) experience. When hitting the send-button counts as successful knowledge sharing, a huge potential payoff in terms of interaction, loyalty management and business development is simply ignored. Especially with the progress of AI, it is time to rethink knowledge management and to look at knowledge from a business development perspective: how can knowledge contribute to commercial success of clients and better risk management?

Foremost, that means focusing on helping clients with the time-consuming tasking of tracking what is relevant to them in the most effective way. A carefully drafted magnum opus of legal wisdom does not tick that box, nor does a newsflash that seems to apply to the world and his wife, leaving your client puzzling over how the content will apply to his or her company. Email does not tick that box either; in fact, in terms of user experience, email is dead. Even if the information you are offering has great added value, your email will still have to fight for your client’s attention in an already overloaded inbox, competing with email chains about cases, interactions with colleagues, a dozen newsletters from other law firms and not to mention You Tube cat video alerts [Hank the pig is my favourite]. Data underlines this observation: according to research by several marketing automation platforms, the open rate for newsletters in legal is around 20 percent, with a click through rate of only 3-6 percent.

In today’s world, an optimal client experience means adopting the Netflix way: offering data-driven content through a state-of-the-art platform that embraces best practices on information consumption, such as visualisation, and the psychology of personalisation. Personalisation is the difference between feeling like a dime a dozen and feeling connected. It is only when a connection is created that your clients feel cared for, but personalisation also entails that clients feel in control of the ever-flowing stream of information. Personalisation builds trust, which is the cornerstone of client intimacy and sustainable relationships.

In the Netflix era, information and user data are the new gold. Proper mining, by constantly tracking what is relevant to your clients and how they navigate through the content, gives you the opportunity to create a value-adding, personalised experience that could turn your clients into brand ambassadors, while showcasing the breadth of your expertise 24/7 across a client’s organisation. Every touchpoint provides an opportunity to connect, to show that you understand a client’s business and, most importantly, that you care about them and look out for your clients. When knowledge sharing is about sharing, and about understanding whom you share it with – rather than it being about you or your knowledge – it becomes the ultimate tool to prove  that you are living up to the promise of being the trusted advisor and the go-to-law firm.

Nicky Leijtens will be presenting 'The Netflix way: How to thrive in business development through effective knowledge management' at KM Legal 2018 on 15-16 May 2018 in London.