The software industry formalized the notion of a “customer success” role starting in the late 1990’s. Fitting between traditional software sales and customer support, customer success groups were mandated to focus on the experience of the customer, to partner with customers to establish criteria for what success looked like and ultimately, in a term Salesforce coined, to create “a customer for life”.
Client engagement for professional services
Stepping into the world of professional services, we call the team responsible for customer success “client engagement”. The mission of this team is to step into the shoes of the client in order to understand their needs. In litigation finance, this enables them to chart a path toward ensuring funding organizations meet and exceed the expectations of the lawyers and clients who collaborate with them. And, just like in a Saas business, the ultimate goal is to establish relationships of trust, so that clients and law firms alike view funding companies as lifetime advisors.
Understand the customer experience
As one would in customer success planning, let’s start with a roadmap of how a client typically seeks funding. First, a business owner has a claim against another company that they believe is meritorious. But the case is going to be expensive and could strain the company's legal budget and potentially imperil the financial health of the organization. So, their lawyers recommend they consider litigation financing.
Align success criteria
Clients considering funding will supply critical facts about their case to one or more funders as a starting point. In this early stage, client, counsel and funder must reach understanding with regards to desired outcome as well as the balance sheet impact of the costs and fees of litigation. Just like in software sales, both vendor and customer need to understand if and how the particular solution meets the organizations’ needs. Ultimately, in both industries, this alignment will set the stage for a successful partnership over time.
In a software evaluation, features, industry-expertise, and price are all relevant to the purchasing decision. In litigation funding, the same themes ring true. As claim holders assess the merits of different funders, they should evaluate offers based on the experience of the team, the clarity of process, and the terms of funding. Clients should endeavor to work with a funder who is transparent about their track record, their terms, and their commitment to clients.
Develop relationships of trust
Finally, once the terms have been agreed, one of two things can happen. In software sales, we all know companies that simply provide a customer support line in case your systems crash. But we also know companies that immediately assign an engagement team who will be your on-going support to ensure your successful adoption of their product.
At Validity, we believe signing the litigation investment agreement is the start of our relationship. We aim to be a strategic partner to our clients. While we have no control of the litigation, we will be available to help clients navigate the financial aspects of their case up to resolution, and beyond. We believe alignment and transparency help ensure that when the case is resolved, either in favor of our client or against, both client and law firm will remain a lifelong Validity contact.
The first customer success managers were not sales people and they weren’t developers – they were a hybrid, often characterized as the voice of the customer or the customer evangelist. In litigation finance, client engagement may act as neither lawyer nor traditional business development but as a hybrid. Transforming the litigation finance process by relentlessly focusing on ways to champion and support the success of the client.