Simply, Searches, Sorted

Q&A with Sarah Fancourt, Director of Customer Success, Poweredbypie

1) Tell Us About Your background

I’ve worked in the search production industry since 2006. At poweredbypie I was a channel manager before becoming director of customer success at the end of last year. I now have overall responsibility for the 64 strong team at poweredbypie’s operations and contact centre in Barnsley, Yorkshire.

2) How has poweredbypie gone about developing a centre of excellence in Barnsley?

In Barnsley we have teams covering customer services, property search production and fulfilment plus a financial services department who can provide quotes for title insurance. We’ve focused on recruiting the most experienced people in the industry, staff who know about the production and processing of searches.
Our fulfilment team ensure third party searches are returned in a timely manner according to our strict service level agreements as well as proactively managing any queries.

Our search production team produce our regulated local authority and drainage and water searches. They access data which might mean visiting Local Authorities, copying records to produce our own searches which are some of the most respected on the market. Our two heads of department have more than 30 years combined industry experience between them, so our legal customers are in good hands.
Technically, if our search orders are all fulfilled successfully our customer services team will never be needed! However, with the volume of searches we put through each year (around half a million), inevitably there are genuine queries to deal with.

3) How is this achieved practically?

With poweredbypie, Property Search Group (PSG), ACS Conveyancing Searches and HomeInfo UK, all now coming together as one entity, our aim is to ensure that we maximise all the very best elements of our different offerings for the benefit of our clients, continuing as always, to put our customers at the heart of what we do.
From first point of the order, to processing the searches, dealing with third party enquiries, to delivering the final report to the customer, the process is designed to be as smooth and efficient as possible and we are making continuous improvements to make the experience and journey of our customers even better.
This is being achieved through enhanced staff training, improved procedures and developing and implementing new IT solutions to advance efficiency. This activity will ensure our team are well prepared as we grow the volume of search production requestswe provide to the legal industry moving forward into 2020 and beyond.

4) What is poweredbypie’s goal/aims when it comes to customer service?

As director of customer success my role is to ensure our teams work together to deliver searches on time. We focus on simply searches sorted!
A property transaction is time critical and reliant on the searches being delivered. If there is an issue with the complexity of the transaction, the sooner our clients are made aware the better. This helps legal firms manage the expectations of their purchasers and the issue can be dealt with. We also offer title insurance too if a property risk is identified.
In this way, we offer an end-to-end solution through our Brighter Law technology which enables law firms to provide instant, automated quotes on their websites, to the order and delivery of searches, insurance plus most recently the secure exchange of client information through our new Document Portal.

5) How do smooth and efficient processes help legal firms offer a better service to their clients?

Customers rely on the knowledge and expertise of law firms as experts in the field of law. Similarly, our clients rely on our search experience and our technical solutions. We each play to our strengths for the benefit of our customers.
At poweredbypie we can help legal firms offer an even better service, and by this, I mean smoother transactions, more efficient processes, better, faster and more secure communication through our searches and by the use of our technology. An IT firm with no legal or search background wouldn’t provide the insight we can, so our understanding of legal processes is the backbone of the success of our practical technological solutions. We work hand-in hand with legal firms so they can automate more processes and so in this way, they can better focus on the complexities of the legal transaction.

6) How do you think the development/introduction of new IT solutions can help law firms?

I think one of the most exciting developments will be around online communication. For example, our new Document Portal available for our Brighter Law clients, will be a game changer. By removing the need to ‘print and post’, Document Portal offers a simple, secure solution to speed-up the exchange of documentation between solicitors and clients. In a nutshell, it’s an online portal secured by 2-factor authentication, which allows digital document exchange between lawyers and homebuyers, using technology they are familiar with.
One of our first beta clients recently confirmed that a homebuyer had just registered for Document Portal for a new property transaction. They got the client care pack, opened the documents, signed and returned them securely within two hours! With this communication typically taking a week or more through the post, suddenly, we can see how to make the, often stressful, process of buying a new home much more convenient for customers, giving law firms a real competitive edge and saving time throughout the workflow of the transaction.

7) How has the legal market changed over the years in your experience and why has customer service become so central to law firms’ offerings?

Originally, lawyers needed to write to individual data providers and manage the process of obtaining search information themselves. Searches came back by snail-mail! As data is now more accessible, this has created an increase in the potential risks conveyancers needs to consider and therefore the range of associated searches available.
It wasn’t that long ago when law firms started to access one-stop shops like poweredbypie and PSG for searches. In fact, PSG was one of the first search companies, we are now in our 23rd year. Law firms were then able to start relying on such search services, even though at the beginning we were still using dial-up to get in-touch with data providers! It’s all a lot faster now! We’ve moved from paper to online and these days our searches can be delivered straight into a law firm’s case management system prepopulating the file which saves re-keying of information.
Although processes have become faster, law firms are under more pressure from lenders and regulators these days. Fraud is a big concern and so if we can take care of sorting the searches, legal executives can focus on the complexity of the transactions and compliance. In this way our goal is to support firms so they can concentrate on providing their best legal services.

8) What steps can legal firms take to improve their own customer experiences?

I think it all comes down to communication. Our customer services department is focussed on keeping customers informed at all times. Sometimes, it’s not enough to ‘just do the job’. Customers want to understand it’s been done or is on track, if something’s changed or there is an issue they are told straight away. Keeping customers informed can make a big difference in their perception of how well a transaction is handled and this is important when it comes to recommendations for future work!

9) What does your typical day look like?

It’s varied as I am looking at everything from managing workstreams to understanding orders and reporting and staff management. Much of the search work is seasonal so analysing the amount of work that is coming in and knowing how many orders are in progress is key to staff allocation and ensuring we have enough resources in the right place at the right time. Training is also a key part of my role, as is personal development of staff. In addition, we are always reviewing the services we offer to the market and continually evaluating our systems and processes to see how they can be improved. IT is an area that is ‘never finished’ as there are always developments to enhance our internal and external systems too.

10) What is your vision of the future?

Technology will certainly unlock further areas to improve efficiencies. However, law firms need to partner with experts in this field. Organisations that understand legal processes will be the most successful at solving workflow challenges to speed up transactions, as we all inevitably rely on more and more digital processes in the future.

 This article was submitted to be published by Poweredbypie as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

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