Once new hires have been around awhile at Verint Systems, which provides customer-engagement solutions to a wide range of clients around the world, Brian Leslie likes to ask them a simple question.
Leslie, a senior vice president and general counsel for the company’s global Customer Engagement Solutions division in Alpharetta, Georgia, wants to know what those who’ve come from other companies think about Verint’s legal department, how it works with other parts of the business, and the types and effectiveness of interactions it has with customers. In essence, how does the department compare to those at other companies? Those who answer are usually surprised.
The legal team in many large organizations is considered a back-office function that has little to do with the core sales business, but at Verint, it’s woven intricately with the rest of the company’s operations. Leslie is one of the leaders in the business to thank for much of this seamless internal integration, which has yielded powerful outcomes for the company of five thousand employees, its top and bottom line, its approach to customer service, and its culture built around customer success.
Early in his career, Leslie worked in marketing and sales and as the owner of a medical-supply start-up company. In those roles, he attended trade shows and still remembers the “adrenaline rush” of closing the deal. “It was like candy to a kid,” he says. Later, when he first became an attorney and his role was more strictly on the legal side, he found he missed the deep connections and value that came with being involved with sales and day-to-day negotiations. As his role evolved, Leslie assumed a leadership position in negotiations, those sales connection points, and more, getting him back to his passion of doing business in a highly connected, collaborative way.
At the same time, an overall evolution in the Verint business several years ago gave way to a cultural groundswell—what Leslie and his colleagues refer to as “Developing Customers for Life.” This principle fit like a glove with the company’s customer-centric approach and commitment to customer success—really helping customers gain maximum value from their Verint solutions, with Verint serving as a trusted partner along the way. Leslie and his legal team—and all groups across the company—have ingrained the company’s Customers for Life principle into their day-to-day functions and overall approach.
So what exactly is at the heart of Verint’s customer-centric guiding principle? It’s grounded in customer success and creating customer champions. As Leslie explains, “Our customers become champions when we understand their business needs, proactively communicate with them, and make it easy to do business with us throughout their journey,” from initial prospecting to negotiations and final sale and from implementation and training to full production, service, and support.
Simply becoming more involved in the beginning stages of sales and negotiating contracts, for example, was a move that wound up being a boon to the company’s negotiation process. It’s helped ensure that deals have gone more smoothly for both Verint and its customers, leaving everyone informed and more satisfied during and after negotiations.
“At the end of the day, you have to figure out how to mix and marry all the personalities on both sides to get deals closed,” Leslie says. “If you don’t know the dynamics of a room, there’s no way you can effectively negotiate. In a sense, the members of our legal team think and act as masters of psychology and conscious observers of personalities, and they apply those added skills to facilitate deals. It became a natural part of what we do and makes work both fun and fulfilling for my team—while producing quality results.”
Satisfying customers during negotiations contributes to Verint’s larger customer mission, too. The company is in the business of providing its clients—from large, global enterprises to small- and medium-size businesses—with tools to capture, analyze, and act on customer data to deliver high-caliber experiences. Whether it’s calling into a contact center or using self-service channels, companies count on Verint solutions to help them simplify, modernize, and automate customer engagement.
Leslie notes that it’s important for Verint to apply the same approach, expertise, and tools it uses with clients inside its own business. “This includes everything from how we gain a better understanding of the prospect or customer’s business and needs before engaging in a negotiation to asking how we did post-sale using our own survey technology to capture the ‘voice of the customer,’ act on that feedback, and constantly improve,” he says.
Integration at all steps in the process is also key to ensuring customers gain value and renew their business. “The tricky thing, of course, is we could make customers extraordinarily happy by just giving them everything they want,” Leslie says. “But, how do you protect shareholders, protect IP, and mitigate risk to a reasonable level? It’s a balance—but a very achievable one that, when done right, ends up being mutually beneficial.”
It’s all part of a practice of putting customers first. “Verint’s legal team is not simply there for final sign-offs or contract advice,” Leslie says. “We’re actually in the room, playing an active role at all stages of the process. We’ve found it’s more conducive to forming strong relationships and grows the likelihood that customers will be pleased.” The proof is in the company’s strong renewal and retention rate.
Leslie sees the difference in the company’s customer-service approach and its relationship to its legal team. “They haven’t asked me to attend because they needed a lawyer,” he says. “They want me there to talk about how we structure an effective relationship. The power of relationships, trust, and collaboration toward a mutually beneficial result is what we think powers customer and business success in this new world. Applying those principles to traditional functions and really continuing to evolve them keeps our legal team and profession at the top of its game.”
Photo by Haigwood Studios Photography Inc.