How To: Leverage Legal Tech To Strengthen Your Legal Practice

December 6, 2016

Technology is changing the way that we live and work, and the legal industry is no exception. While the development of legal technology, or legal tech, is racing ahead in jurisdictions such as the United States, countries in Asia are increasingly catching up with the trend. According to Law Technology Today, there are five trends that are driving the growth of legal technology today.

  1. Mobile Applications. With the prevalence of apps for social networking, banking, traveling and other personal activities, it is only a matter of time before professionals will be able to practice law on the go as long as they have a data connection. This will improve client engagement and satisfaction.
  2. Movement To The Cloud. Cloud technology allows firms to save money, time and resources as they no longer have to build their IT infrastructure to a size to handle peak need.
  3. Security. Given the increasing amount of data stored in the cloud, security is a pressing concern for companies. It is crucial for firms to encrypt their data and implement proper processes for the storage of information.
  4. Analytics. Similarly, the increasing amount of data raises demand for software that is able to review a significant number of data points to identify trends that a human lawyer would not be able to.
  5. Artificial Intelligence. AI is set to move current analytic capabilities from descriptive to predictive, for instance by mapping the predispositions of judges to predict rulings.

Source: Legal Technology Today

In his address to the newly admitted advocates and solicitors at the 2016 Mass Call in Singapore, Chief Justice CJ Menon stated that new technologies are ‘poised to reconfigure the way in which legal services are accessed and delivered’. Examples of technology that he cited include Verifi, a computer programme developed by Linklaters that has the capability to sift through UK and European regulatory registers to check client names for banks, and the Term Frame system developed by Pinsent Masons which is able to read and analyse clauses in loan agreements and point lawyers to the correct precedents at each stage of the transaction process.  

In Hong Kong, the legal tech field has been steadily growing, with the fourth annual LegalTech Asia Hong Kong event targeting legal industry professionals with an interest in technology taking place earlier this year and the Law & Technology Centre at the University of Hong Kong established to advance research on the intersection between information technology and law.

Related Reading: The Latest Developments in Legal Technology

So…what exactly is legal tech?

According to a BCG report titled ‘How Legal Technology Will Change the Business of Law (Jan 2016), the legal tech landscape is organised into three broad categories of solutions: 1) Enablers, 2) Support-process solutions, and 3) Substantive law solutions.

Enabler technologies such as cloud storage tools and cybersecurity solutions focus on facilitating the digitisation of processes. Support-process solutions allow processes ranging from customer relationship management to accounting to be managed more efficiently. The third category of substantive law solutions involves the automation of simple or repetitive legal tasks, such as contract drafting and contract analysis, as well as document screening.

Why leverage legal tech?

With the growing narrative of innovation, transformation and disruption, it is no surprise that professionals in many industries view technology as a threat that potentially undermines their livelihoods and will eventually do away with the roles of junior professionals.

However, this does not have to be the case. Law firms can and should leverage legal tech because of its potential to help you prove your firm’s efficiency and productivity, provide better client service and bring you savings.

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1) Improve efficiency, productivity & quality of work

As pointed out in an article published by Thomson Reuters, improving law firm productivity is all about increasing billable work product output without increasing headcount or hours. Given that clients demand from their external lawyers what they demand of all their suppliers – more and better service at a lower cost – the way to go for law firms is to improve efficiency and productivity. According to BCG, partners of big law firms reveal that 30% to50% of tasks involved in supposedly bespoke cases may be automated through tech-based tools.

While artificial intelligence (AI) is often perceived as a threat given the fact that it might eventually replace humans, AI can be your ally. The concept that is central to AI is Deep Learning, where every time a programme or software predicts human behaviour based on previous actions and/or data, that programme or software “learns” how to make better predictions. In fact, there are already several ways in which AI is helping lawyers.

Related Reading: Is Cyber Security About To Get An AI Takeover?

  • Information Retrieval. While tasks such as sorting through thousands of emails to find incriminating evidence used to be time-consuming, AI-based platforms such as RAVN Systems helps legal professionals automatically organise, discover and summarise information retrieved from legal documents at a much quicker speed than human lawyers could ever achieve.
  • Document Management. AI can be used to analyse documentation for critical information, find errors, or run statistical checks to help firms complete cases with more efficiency.
  • Employee Management. AI-based employee management platforms can reduce the need to have an internal team for compliance issues altogether. An example is ComplianceHR which has created a platform of applications that contain hybridised reasoning methods based off if/then mappings, decision trees, situation sets, multi-value variables, instances and weighted scorings, and more.
  • Document Review. While the document review stage typically involves a team of lawyers going through all the information was was discovered, analysing these results, and performing new searches based on these analyses, this process can be made more efficient by AI-based platforms that are able to run multiple searches and QC checks simultaneously.
  • Case Management. What AI-based case management platforms do is allow lawyers and paralegals to work through the necessary steps of bringing a case to settlement by way of automatic document creation tools and customizable user prompts. This is ideal for legal professionals who are newer to their area of law, and need a subtle guiding hand that will help them reduce the possible margin of error.
  • Search Engine Analytics. Lawyers who know how to properly use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques tend to rank better and receive more new clients

Source: The Huffington Post

Beyond improving the volume of output that your firm produces, tapping technology also improves the quality of your work. Smart software can help you minimise human errors that inevitably arise given the tedium of going through large volumes of documents. Stronger search engine analytics can help you arrive at the results you want more precisely and reliably. With improved efficiency, productivity and quality of work, you are constantly bettering yourself as a law firm.

2) Strengthen your value proposition to your clients

Indeed, consumers are the ones leading the adoption of legal tech as they utilise online services for processes such as preparing wills, standard contracts and small claims. In-house counsel who are engaging law firms are also demanding more.

In order for a law firm to better serve clients as business people, the two key areas to focus on are project management and performance measurement. Offering legal project management that leverages legal technologies can be one way to stand out and differentiate your firm from the rest. Demonstrate to your client that you have a project team that can undertake all the work along the organisational chart, a framework of the work process, proof of delivery on similar projects and projected turnaround – with tech tools that will facilitate parts of the process. After adding value to your client through increased efficiency brought on by technology, you will have to quantify your edge through key performance indicators (KPIs).

Tapping on legal technology can help you offer more with less, and ultimately strengthen your value proposition as a firm.

5 Tips For Improving Customer Loyalty

3) Improve your operating model to attain cost savings

Lawyering is a profession. At the same time, law firms are businesses that need to have a solid revenue model in order to be sustainable. Gone are the days when law firms handled all legal tasks in-house. Legal process outsourcing (LPO) for low-skilled legal work and automation of high-volume standardised tasks has allowed law firms to shave off unnecessary costs. By investing in legal technology, you can achieve economies of scale – once you acquire the technology, the marginal cost of employing the existing tech solution for each new case is marginal.

Related Reading: Bid4Ad: 78% Cost Savings as We Raised our First Million with Dragon Law

How do I leverage legal tech?

Now that we’ve laid out the benefits that legal technology can bring to your firm, the more pressing question is this: How do you go about leveraging legal tech? Business leaders who declare that technology is the future often say that lawyers should learn how to code. Picking up programming is undeniably useful for one’s personal development, yet at the same time a significant investment of time and resources for the legal professional who is already swamped with client emails and contracts to pore over.

According to Oliver Goodenough, Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Legal Innovation at Vermont Law School, we are currently at Legal Tech 2.0, whereby technology goes beyond merely supporting the lawyer, to performing tasks that were previously done by lawyers. For instance, there is E-discovery software that allows the entire process – from collection of evidence to discovery and trial presentation – to be ingested and produced in its original format, and provides full-featured document review platforms that have the ability to annotate and tag documents. Indeed, lawyers have been employing technology in one form or another for years. Legal technology is not new. There are existing technologies that law firms can adopt to improve their legal practice, and lawyers have the choice to compete or collaborate.

A key first step is implementing legal tech solutions within your practice to improve efficiency and cut costs. For instance, there are options to improve the efficiency of your legal research. Legal tech start-ups such as INTELLLEX in Singapore provide smarter search engines that aim to relieve the tedium of legal research and knowledge management. Other ways you can incorporate more efficient tech solutions into your daily processes include the following:

  • Go paperless. Eliminating paper can free up time spent on non-productive tasks, such as searching for documents in file cabinets. Storing documents in the cloud allows everyone in the firm to access files easily and also reduces printing costs.
  • Implement practice management software. Practice management software helps you efficiently keep track of your cases, organise documents, sync calendars and assign tasks.
  • Reduce in-house technology & use a cloud management system. Rather than maintaining multiple servers which can be costly business, put your documents in a cloud management system. While law firms are hesitant to adopt cloud technologies due to security concerns, experts believe that cloud software can be more secure, as documents are continually backed up and encrypted, and only individuals with authorisation can access the data.

Adapted from Naked Technologist

Learn more about The Cloud:

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Beyond adopting legal tech tools to improve efficiency and cut costs within your law firm, there are an increasing number of tech companies – both legal tech and otherwise – that offer opportunities for collaboration with law firms. Legal tech is a growing field and investors are increasingly backing new legal tech ventures.

Yet, even though legal information and legal services may be available online, lawyers still play a key role in providing legal advice that is tailored to the needs of the client. Strategic alliances between tech companies and law firms can provide clients with a more comprehensive solution than relying solely on one or the other.

Where does Dragon Law come in?

We believe in providing the best for our clients. This is why we recently launched the Dragon Law Partner Programme, where law firms can come on board and harness our platform to better serve clients all around.

What’s in for businesses?

Businesses pay a monthly subscription fee (for a minimum of 12 months) for access to our platform, in which they can create, e-sign and store legal documents. Naturally, these clients have business questions that range from simple queries and document reviews to more complex assistance like licence applications to comply with regulatory requirements.

View our Managed Account Plans

What’s in for partners?

As a partner who is certified to use the Dragon Law software, you can log in to your client’s account to amend their documents directly. We will also invite you to take on new clients. Growing the number of clients you have on Dragon Law grows your status level and benefits. This means greater cost savings that you can use to grow your business or pass on to your clients. You will also secure a listing on our website that provides information about your Dragon Law enabled plans to potential clients. Being known as a law firm that leverages technology for greater efficiency strengthens your brand.

Clients aside, on a lawyer-to-lawyer level (our team comprises former lawyers who understand the profession well!), the Dragon Law team is also excited about how harnessing technology can make lawyering interesting again. Lawyers spend a lot of time on repetitive, non-chargeable tasks and business development, and not enough on fee-earning. In fact, only two-thirds of a lawyer’s time is spent generating fee income. By encouraging your clients to use technology like the Dragon Law platform to solve their routine legal problems, you can free up your time to do higher-value, chargeable work. On top of making your practice more profitable, it makes lawyering more interesting!

Learn More about the Dragon Law Partner Programme

Questions? Get in touch with Ryanne, our Global Head of Partnerships, at ryanne.lai@dragonlaw.io

The Comprehensive Guide to Building a Legally-Healthy Business (SME Edition)

December 5, 2016

We know that running a small business is a challenging task for any entrepreneur. Small businesses are perpetually stretched, with limited time, manpower and resources. We recently published a post on the top pain points that small businesses face and how to deal with them.

In this Comprehensive Guide to Building a Legally-Healthy Business (SME Edition), we give you the lowdown on the key legal documents and resources that your small business should have in place to deal with these 8 pain points!

1. MANAGING CASH FLOW

Customers who make late payments can hinder efficient cash flow and pose a headache, especially for small businesses with low cash reserves. The good news is that small business owners can alleviate the problem by putting in place legal documents that optimise their cash flow. Top tips include negotiating payment dates to align inflows with outflows, reducing your payment term to encourage customers to make payment earlier, and putting in place recurring payment methods to encourage your customers to pay on time.

Document Used for
Purchase Order This is a standard document or template that your customers or clients can use to order goods or services from your business. When you accept the Purchase Order, a binding contract is formed.
Invoice An Invoice is a document you can send to a customer requiring payment for goods or services that you have provided or will provide. It acts as a bill and a proof of a transaction.
Late Payment Letters These are a useful and affordable way of chasing up overdue invoices by prompting a customer to pay the overdue amount.  Depending on the original agreement, you might be able to set a certain number of days before you start charging interest.
Letter Accepting Payments in Installments If your customer does not dispute that money is owed and is willing to make arrangements for the debt to be repaid, you can consider a Letter Accepting Payments in Instalments. Such a letter allows the debtor to pay off the debt with regular fixed instalments.

Resources for optimising cash flow

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 Learn more about how you can use key legal documents to ensure you receive payment on time and optimise your cash flow.

2. HIRING & RETAINING STAFF

SMEs face challenges hiring and retaining staff, with high manpower costs and competition from more established companies that can offer more attractive remuneration packages. First up, make your company a more attractive proposition to both existing employees and potential recruits by putting in place compensation options that encourage long service. And when you are thinking about whether and who to hire, another tip is to consider hiring freelance consultants (otherwise known as independent contractors) instead of taking on a full-time employee for fixed term projects!

Document Used for
Employment Contract Once your candidate has accepted the offer of employment, put together the Employment Contract to regulate the relationship between the employer and employee in order to minimise potential disputes. The document is useful if you want to dissuade certain new hires from leaving your company too soon, disclosing confidential information about your business, or going to work for a competitor.
Consultancy Agreement A Consultancy Agreement is a document designed to regulate the relationship between a company and an independent consultant who is not an employee of the company. A well-drafted Consultancy Agreement will set out the scope of the work that the consultant will provide, and protects the business by letting the consultant know the extent of his or her powers and responsibilities.
Share Vesting Agreement A Share Vesting Agreement is a contract granting an individual or company the right to purchase shares. By allowing employees or other consultants to earn equity in a company over time, you can reward your employees for their performance while incentivising them to remain with the business. Vesting is a great way to encourage long service to the company as you can specify when each of the shares is released to the employee.
Option to Purchase Shares An Option to Purchase Shares is an offer from a company to a certain individual with an option to purchase from the company a pre-determined number of shares in that company at a pre-determined price. As there is no upfront cost to the option-holder upon receiving the Option to Purchase Shares, your company can attract employees and incentivise existing employees or shareholders.

Resources for growing your team
Unsure what employment laws you have to comply with when taking on board that new hire?

Download a free eBook to learn how you can avoid pitfalls by navigating through areas of employment law.
Singapore Version      Hong Kong Version

Want to keep your employees happy and motivated? Check out this post on our blog for tips on incentivising employees without burning a hole in your pocket.

3. DEALING WITH CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS

People often say that the customer is king, and for good reason. Mismatched expectations or a lapse in service quality may alienate your customers and hurt your ability to maintain and grow your customer base. Put in place documentation that helps you align expectations with your clients on all fronts, including pre-, during and post-delivery of the goods and services!

Document Used for
Letter of Intent (Memorandum of Understanding) A Letter of Intent (Memorandum of Understanding) is a non-binding document to summarise the result of negotiations between two parties in order to facilitate the future formation of a contract. By setting down a record of the progress of initial negotiations, parties can focus on issues that need resolution.
Sale of Goods Agreement This is a contract for the sale and purchase of goods that sets out the exact nature of the goods, as well as price and payment terms. As the product may pass through the hands of international manufacturers and distributors before it reaches its final destination, the agreement must be clearly written to ensure careful consideration of the sale and delivery risks.
Supply of Services Agreement This is a contract between a supplier and a customer for the provision of a specified service that documents the key terms of how that service will be carried out. As you may be dependent on the customer to perform certain tasks in order for you to perform your obligations, set out your terms and conditions in this agreement to make sure that both parties are in complete agreement so that you can build a mutually beneficial relationship.

Resources for building a relationship with your customers

Growing your small business is very much about growing your customer base, by keeping your existing customers happy while acquiring new customers. Check out this post for tips on how to maintain your customer relationships and build loyalty by making your customers feel understood and valued!

4. MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE

In a time where competition is no longer local but now global, businesses have to go online in order to reach a broader customer base. Websites are a key touchpoint of any business, even if you do not use your website as a platform for the sale of goods or services. Make sure you have these key legal documents in place to manage the relationship between your business and your web developer as well as website users.

Document Used for
Website Design and Development Agreement Business owners often hire freelancers or other third parties to build or redesign their websites. Make sure you have in place this contract to set out the nature and ownership of the website as well as service expectations so that your company can focus on its business and the contractor can focus on the website.
Website Privacy Policy This is a statement you place on your website laying out how your business will collect, use, and manage a user’s personal data. By clarifying the scope of use of such personal data, you can avoid future disputes concerning data privacy infringement.
Website Terms of Use A Website Terms of Use structures the relationship between you as a website operator and your website users by setting out each party’s rights and obligations. They are made available on your website for users to read and, by continuing to use the site, users accept these terms.


Resources for online marketing & running an online business

Want to know how to make the most of your marketing dollar? Check out this post for tips that include identifying your target market and increasing website traffic through search engine optimisation (SEO).

Looking to take your business online? Download our free eBook Online Business: How To Set Up & Protect Your Online Business (Hong Kong) and Online Business: How To Set Up & Protect Your Online Business (Singapore) and read more about the key documents you will need to protect your online business and build a successful online enterprise.

Operating an online marketplace? Check out this post on our blog for essential legal considerations for online marketplaces.

5. RISING COSTS & COMPETITION

It can be a challenge to run a business in hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore, given the high overheads and strong competition. Sometimes, businesses may need to take loans to tide over a financially challenging period. Depending on who you take the loan from – another business, a shareholder, a director or a sister company – you will need different kinds of Loan Agreements to set out the terms of conditions for the loan and repayment.

Another tip – one way to beat the rising cost of office rental is to work from co-working spaces or share your office space with a fellow small business!

Document Used for
Commercial Loan Agreement If other businesses are interested in helping you tide over a financially challenging period, use this document to set out the terms and conditions for the loan. This agreement can help both parties more closely monitor the condition of the loan, thereby enhancing the borrower/lender relationship because it promotes more frequent communications between the parties.
Loan from Director or Shareholder It is crucial to distinguish between money paid into a company as capital (e.g. to subscribe for shares), and money lent to a company as debt (i.e. a loan). A Loan from Director or Shareholder is an agreement for use when a director or shareholder lends money to their company. By drawing up a Loan from Director or Shareholder, the director or shareholder becomes a creditor of the company. Upon liquidation this debt will be repaid before the shareholders of the company get back the capital they invested into the company.
Intragroup Loan Agreement An Intragroup Loan Agreement records the terms on which one party (the lender) lends money to another party (the borrower) which is within the same group of companies, e.g. from a parent company to a subsidiary or between two subsidiaries of the same parent company. It is suitable for any group company member that wants to draft the basic terms of the arrangement in order to avoid any potential misunderstanding regarding the loan that may otherwise occur if there is no formal record beyond accounting entries.
Term Sheet If your source of funding is private investors such as venture capital firms or angel investors, they will typically ask for a Term Sheet. This is a preliminary document that will include the key terms of an investment in a company, including the agreed-upon valuation of the business, the proposed capitalisation table, the key financial and legal terms, and the rights of the company and the investors.
Co-working Space Application Form and Terms of Use For smaller businesses, sharing an office space is a practical way to minimise costs while maximising access to office facilities. If you want to let another business use your spare office space, then a Co-working Space Application Form and Terms of Use sets out the terms under which you will work together.

Resources for raising funds

  Simply need more funds to grow your business? Check out this post to learn about the Singapore government grants that cater to small businesses.

Want to know what’s on the mind of investors when they’re deciding whether to invest? Check out insights from investors, entrepreneurs and lawyers from our Legal Startup Academy session on Early Stage Funding.

Intending to raise funds via a Convertible Note? Check out this post on our blog to learn how the Convertible Note mechanism works as well as the relevant documents that you need.

6. PROTECTING IDEAS & COMMERCIAL ASSETS

Beyond the goods and services that you provide to your customers, one of the most valuable assets that you have as a business are your ideas and intellectual property (IP). Whenever your business develops intangible human creations, ensure that you secure your IP rights in order to protect your creations. This way, you can even monetise your IP in the future, by licensing your trade mark to another company to expand into new markets or transferring the trade mark of a business or product line when you sell it to another company.

Document Used for
Trade Mark License Agreement This agreement allows the owner of the trade mark (the licensor) to give approval to another person (the licensee) to use the trade mark. Licensing can help a company expand into new markets effectively while lending the licensee an established name and reputation as well as provide lucrative income for trade mark owners.
Trade Mark Assignment If you are selling a business or a product line, you may need to transfer the trade mark that is associated with it. A Trade Mark Assignment provides a record of ownership and allows the trade mark owner to transfer the owner’s rights, title, and interest in a trade mark or service mark in a way that protects the rights of all parties.
Confidentiality Agreement (or Non-disclosure Agreement) Your business has information that should remain private, such as customer database, financial information, or new business ideas. An NDA is your first line of defence to protecting this information. This legal document creates a confidential relationship between your business and any contractors, employees, and other business partners who might get a behind-the-scenes look at your operations.

Resources for protecting your brand

Download the FREE eBook

Just designed a logo that you want to protect?

Download our free eBook to learn about what you need for a successful application, how to maintain your trade mark and maximise its value globally.

Confused about the differences between the various types of IP? Check out this post on our blog to find out what the various types are and what you need to qualify for IP protection.

Want to whether your latest invention qualifies for IP protection? Learn about the key considerations in this interview with an IP lawyer.

7. TIME MANAGEMENT

As a business owner, you wear multiple hats and it often seem like the things you should do to improve operations and grow your business is never ending. Given that businesses these days are all about automation, efficiency and productivity, there’s no prizes for guessing what the solution is for your challenge of time management. Technology can help you eliminate repetitive tasks and streamline operations so that you can devote your time to what really grows your business. Think social media management tools such as Hootsuite to manage your online marketing efforts and online payroll software such as Gpayroll, Talenox and HReasily to manage your HR needs more affordably and efficiently.

And when it comes to legal, the Dragon Law web app enables fast production of custom documentation which will help your business improve efficiency, accuracy and compliance.

As a Dragon Law subscriber, you can:

  • Access any of our 500 existing business documents and customise them to your specific needs, and
  • Draft legal documents without any legal knowledge using our simple Q&A interface
  • Use our cloud software to store all your legal documentation in a simple and easy-to-navigate space
  • Choose to automate any of your frequently used documents and save a few hours each week
  • Save time on sourcing and evaluating law firms – we recommend you to a trusted one in our network

8. DEALING WITH REGULATION & STAYING UP-TO-DATE

It is important that you stay up-to-date with the latest updates to laws, acts, and regulation that may impact the way you run your business. This isn’t something that can be solved with a single legal document, but rather requires you to ensure that your legal documents are constantly updated to reflect the latest regulatory changes. This is what we provide on our Dragon Law web app – a comprehensive suite of legal documents that are constantly kept up-to-date amidst an evolving regulatory climate.

Beyond legal documents, businesses sometimes simply need trusted legal advice when deciding whether to make the next strategic step to launch a new product or enter a new market. This is why we recently launched Dragon Law Managed Accounts, where we partner with established law firms with expertise in a range of industries to provide Dragon Law-enabled legal services for your organisation.

What goes into a Dragon Law-enabled plan?

  • Business compliance: Manage risk by having your business model or operation documents reviewed on regulatory compliance
  • Dragon Law subscription: Create unlimited legal and business documents on Dragon Law for the running of your day-to-day business
  • Review documents: Have your documents reviewed by experienced lawyers and amended to fit your specific business purpose

View our list of Certified Advisors – Dragon Law Managed Account

Resources for staying up-to-date with regulatory requirements

→ Trawling the Internet for the latest regulatory requirements that your business needs to stay compliant with can be tedious, and you can’t always be sure that what you find is the most updated regulation or piece of legislation. Check out our eBook library for our Does The Law Matter? series for the lowdown on what you need to know to navigate key legal requirements!

The 4 Things You Must Consider Before Outsourcing Payroll

November 28, 2016

As your company grows and payroll management becomes difficult and time-consuming, outsourcing your payroll process to an external vendor might seem like a solution. Most third-party payroll vendors help to take care of the nitty-gritty details of payroll – from calculating overtime hours and allowances, to taking into account legislative changes and amending the payroll calculations accordingly.

However, before you decide to outsource your payroll function, there are a few long-term results and consequences you must consider:

1) Losing control

When you enter a contractual agreement with an outsourced payroll vendor, you are bound by their terms and conditions. This means that they get to decide how to to store your employee and payroll data, as well as the services rendered to your organisation. Furthermore, the security of your company’s confidential and sensitive information now lies in their hands.

 

2) A bottleneck when accessing data

As your company’s data now resides on an external party’s server, this creates an additional layer of communication when you attempt to retrieve information. For one, your outsourced payroll vendor might charge you a service fee for extracting the data that you require. Secondly, they might not act as promptly as you require.

3) Lack of company familiarity and identity

In the absence of an in-house Payroll Manager, you will naturally point your employees to a client service agent in times of dispute. Depending on your service level agreement with the vendor, your employees may have to deal with a different client service representative each time. This is not ideal and may create frustration among your employees when they have to repeat their issues each time.

4) Higher cost

Not all the services provided by outsourced payroll vendors will be suitable for your size of company. At times, you might end up paying more than what you really need – budget that you will much rather spend on growing your business.

While outsourcing payroll management may sound like the easiest way to resolving your payroll woes, it is not the only solution. Instead, take time to do your due research and consider other options such as adopting payroll software. One such example is Gpayroll who provides a similar framework as an outsourced payroll vendor – end-to-end payroll processing software at an affordable price. Remember, make the right payroll decision that is the best fit for your company!

Also read: Our CEO’s favourite productivty tools:

This a guest contribution submitted by Gpayroll. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.

About Gpayroll

Gpayroll is an easy to use, self-run online payroll service that will redefine and revolutionize the payroll industry. Its intuitive and automated system will help business owners focus on their core business without the hassle of managing payroll. Follow on Facebook

Why Businesses That Don’t Do Offline Marketing Fail

November 25, 2016

Today, many eCommerce companies turn to online channels such as social media to promote their products and services. However, that’s not to say that traditional offline methods to increase brand awareness, user acquisition, retention, satisfaction, and conversions certainly have waned or died off. Successful entrepreneurs understand that they will be able to reap the best results by combining online and offline marketing strategies.

Related reading: 7 Online Marketing tips for your business

While a business may identify itself as online or offline, it is likely that it engages in cross-platform marketing efforts; be it promotional events, adverts in the magazines or papers, pamphlets, or business cards. How is offline marketing integral to a small business? The simple answer is that it’s the best method to start and maintain a local presence.

⚠️ A Website Privacy Policy required by law, even if you are just marketing and not selling goods or services online. Claim FREE Website Privacy Policy →

Have a storefront

It doesn’t have to be permanent. A pop-up shop at conventions, conferences or trade shows, at your school, a local mall, or even at farmers’ markets can act as an introduction point to your offering and provide first-hand experience for prospective customers. This first-hand experience might convince people who otherwise wouldn’t be interested to start using your product or service.

Read: Your most frequently asked questions at Tech in Asia 2016, answered

Along the way, depending on the nature of your business, you can offer meetups, workshops, and promotional events to attract new users as well as engage your existing customers. Online platforms such as Thestorefront.com let you search for spaces that work for your brand.

Have a geographic focus

Concentrate your offline marketing efforts on one or a few key cities. Flyers, postcards or brochures help your brand get noticed and create a good amount of initial buzz to support your go-to-market strategy in other geographies.

Determine where your loyal customers will be and the areas that are important to your acquisition efforts. It’s easiest to start local, getting your community to be involved in your project and letting them know what’s going on in their backyard.

Reinforce your brand

Marketing promotions that take place in real-life provide a high-touch interaction with your product and an opportunity to build relationships. On top of using your digital presence to promote offline campaigns, you must also use your physical presence to point to your online activities.

Turn your satisfied customers into brand ambassadors by giving away brand stickers that prominently feature your website and tagline. Make them attractive enough so that people would love to place them on their laptops, notebooks, or cars. Stickers can also double up as for packaging labels or seals.

Photo credit: Smart Insights

Integrate offline marketing with your online efforts

An example from Movember’s successful integrated campaign. Photo credit: Movember.

Social media is the most cost-effective bridge between your offline and online efforts. Every business is trying to go viral, and the best way to do so is by going online. For example, if you’re hosting a launch party, let your followers know through social media or e-mail newsletters.

Include a digital record of your brand’s offline presence to bridge customers back to your online activities. For customers who are not able to participate in the event, lure them in by engaging them through your online presence, perhaps through content from hashtags, a live stream or online promotions.

Measure ROI

Offline marketing efforts are most likely more costly than using online channels. That makes it imperative for you to keep track on the return on investment. You may not be selling a physical good so you can’t analyse ROI by looking directly at the sales revenue. But there are several ways you can track the results of your offline marketing campaign.

You can create a redirect domain and custom landing page for the event or promotion, or giving away a discount coupon or code so you can identify the customers you’ve reached through your campaign. These simple tracking strategies will aid you in measuring the ROI of the offline promotion.

Keep the conversation going

Keep a record of the connections you’ve made at an offline event. Don’t be shy to ask for name cards or other social details such as email addresses, as these will serve as leads. Whether or not the people you come across want or need your service now, invite them to follow you on social media to stay up to date with interesting events and offers.

To keep the conversation going, don’t miss the golden opportunity to include a call to action (CTA) on leaflets or pamphlets that you’re giving out. The CTA can be a Facebook like, or an incentive such as free downloads, an opportunity to network, or really, anything that’s free and easy to do on a mobile device.

The next step is to target and monitor them through social media or newsletters, and to get your newfound acquaintances to discuss the event online. Twitter chats and Facebook Q&As work well to keep the buzz going and allow more interested people to join the conversation. You can always ask your audience questions via social media to get people talking about a topic related to your brand and to encourage them to participate in future events.

This a guest contribution submitted by Clarissa Santoso, Marketing Communications Specialist at Arcadier. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view! Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.

Arcadier is a SaaS company that powers next generation marketplace ideas. Follow Arcadier on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn for news and updates.

5 Tips For Improving Customer Retention And Loyalty

November 23, 2016

The hustle to market your product and acquire new clients is characteristic of the growth stages of any business. However, once you manage to close these initial deals, the next priority would be to keep them happy, and most importantly – keep them coming back!

Brand loyalty is vanishing, making customer retention one of the growing headaches for companies large and small.

Any business that aims to be sustainable in the long-run must be proactive in engaging their existing clients, and continue to pursue product/service excellence to keep clients coming back for more.

We ♡ happy clients! Read Delegate’s case study:

 

Here are 5 tips for retaining clients:

1) Keep your product/service simple

According to a Harvard Business Review study, the modern consumer is overwhelmed by the growing volume of marketing messages, ie. Customers today are increasingly distracted and disloyal! While there are a range of factors that affect the stickiness of your product or service, such as price and customers’ perception of a brand, the factor that by far has the biggest influence in stickiness is “decision simplicity”. By enabling customers to navigate the purchase journey with ease and providing support along the way, you can make the customer journey enjoyable.

Source: Service Design Tools

 

A useful framework for charting out the customer journey is to start with customer journey map. This allows you to identify key touchpoints in the product, experience or service that you are offering, and conscientiously improve the interaction and engagement at every step of the way. The aim is to ensure your product is easy to navigate and make decision-making simple.

2) Provide reliable and accessible customer support

Get into the mind of a new customer who purchases and uses your product or service as a journey with potential pitfalls and pain points. Newer customers are more likely to drop out of the customer journey map when they encounter a roadblock and do not receive immediate assistance. Hence it is crucial for you to understand where your clients’ potential pain points are, and provide timely support at every step of the way. Below are some quick and actionable ways to signal to your customer that you are available to assist should they encounter difficulties:

  • Place a ‘Get Help’ button that leads to a live chat, form, or email composer in a prominent location on your app or website.
  • Proactively communicate service standards to your customer (e.g. by letting them know that you will reply their emails within 48 hours) to manage expectations and assure them that help is on the way.
  • Publish a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that is easily accessible and written from the customer’s point of view.

By being available whenever your clients need you, you will be able to establish a reputation of dependability that will keep your clients coming back.

3) Give your clients a consistent experience

Nothing irks a client more than inconsistencies in how their account is managed, whether this is in the sale of goods or supply of services. According to a McKinsey article, sustaining the long-term commitment of a client boils down to maintaining consistency in three different categories: 1) Customer-journey consistency, 2) Emotional consistency and 3) Communication consistency.

One way to ensure consistency when managing client accounts is to have clear workflows and processes, especially in the areas of payments and finances. Ensure you have in place the key legal documents that outline your payment practices, including the following:

  • Sale of Goods Agreement or Supply of Services Agreement: These documents outline the foundations of how you do business with a supplier or client.
  • Purchase Order: This is a document between a supplier and buyer that confirms a purchase and details the items the buyer agrees to purchase at a certain price, the delivery date, and terms of payment for the buyer.
  • Invoice: This is a document that you send to a customer requiring payment for goods or services, that serves as a bill and a proof of the transaction.
  • Late Payment Letters: These documents are useful and affordable way of following up on overdue invoices in a professional manner.
  • Letter Accepting Payments in Instalments: This document helps to formalise the agreement for payment and sets out clear rules to prevent potential legal disputes from arising.

Businesses often do not pay enough attention to these critical documents as they regard payment transactions as mere formalities that are not central to the customer experience. However, there may be detrimental consequences if such processes are inconsistent and the documents not well-drafted. You (and your sales force) should have the same answer to answer these questions:

What payment options do your company accept?
Is there any option to make payments in instalments?
Are there discounts for bulk purchases?

These are questions that may be on the mind of your customers. Having standardised documents and systems in place ensures that both you and your clients know what to expect.

 

4) Continually improve your product based on customer feedback

In order to build empathy with your clients, it is important for you to listen to them. Put in place feedback channels that make it easy for your customers to provide suggestions for improving your product or service. There are two aspects to obtaining customer feedback: 1) Proactively seeking customer input, and 2) providing a platform for customer feedback.

If you do not seek your customers out to signal that their opinion is valuable for you, they are unlikely to take the initiative to provide feedback on their own accord.

There are a range of platforms and tools that your business can choose from to maximise effectiveness and efficiency in obtaining customer feedback. Tools like Delighted help to measure Net Promoter Scores; couple that with Advocate.ly and Intercom that help to automate the customer communication process – it doesn’t take that much extra work at all!

Whichever you choose, keep in mind that you surveys should be designed in a way that invites responses that are timely, reliable and actionable. In-app satisfaction ratings have the highest response rates, while email surveys would be more effective in reaching inactive users. Follow these three key principles when designing customer surveys:

  1. Take direct action on the specific issues raised
    Where customers indicate specific complaints, ensure that someone from your company takes follow-up action so that customers do not feel that they are dropping feedback into a black hole.
  2. Keep your surveys quick and short
    Customer satisfaction surveys should be two or three targeted questions at best, to signal that you respect your customers’ time.
  3. Learn from the feedback
    Analyse the feedback that you have collected, and update the design of your product or service accordingly.

Adapted from Harvard Business Review

 

While surveys are great for when you want to obtain information on specific issues – for instance, feedback on product features or data on consumer habits – customers might sometimes want to provide feedback. Businesses leverage on this by setting up a constantly available feedback platform within their website or app that allows customers to give open-format feedback. This allows customers to voice opinions on issues which they feel are most important.

Ultimately, what is most important is that your business takes action based on feedback collected by setting up a system that effectively converts customer feedback into product improvements. Knowing that the business has a functioning feedback loop in place will empower customers to influence product development in tangible ways and ensure that the business constantly responds to its customers’ needs.

 

Customer feedback: Delegate and Dragon Law

5) Build empathy and trust with your customers

At the end of the day, your business should focus more on your customers (rather than your competitors!). Businesses need to respond to customers’ intrinsic desire to feel empowered. This requires businesses to be flexible and adapt to their clients’ preferences and behaviours. For instance, if your client is browsing your website on their desktop and next speaks to a salesperson in your store, branch or call centre, be ready to pick up where they left off in order to facilitate a seamless customer journey. The goal is to embody a customer-first attitude at the core of your business.

If you don’t like filling out forms again and again (think: like when filing your insurance claims!), neither will your customers! Cloud technology today allows data to be synchronised across devices in real-time – say goodbye to pen, paper, scan, and data-entry!

 

Legal in the cloud. Anytime, anywhere.

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Here are some good practices which can help your team build empathy with your customers:

  1. Share customer insights with everyone in your team and actively discuss ways to improve the customer experience.
  2. Become a customer by stepping into the shoes of your customers and gaining first-hand insight into their experience.
  3. Conduct ethnographic research by interviewing clients on a one-on-one basis and developing customer personas.
  4. Create a life-sized map of the CX journey and walk through it
  5. Incorporate understanding phrases into your customer service to convey empathy to your customers

Adapted from Salesforce

Source: The Working Capitol

What strategies or tools do you use to keep your customers engaged, happy, and coming back for more? Let us know in the comments below!

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