Meet Gary Turner, our Growth Board Advisor
‘People don’t buy products or services anymore, they buy experiences.’
It’s with great pleasure that we can introduce to you our new Growth Board Advisor, Gary Turner.
We hosted a Q&A with him to find out more about his career and why he decided to join The Link App.
Tell us a little about yourself and your career to date.
I’ve been in software for thirty years, and I believe my career is defined by two themes.
One of which is growing up as a teenager in the 1980’s. I was of the first generation to grow up with the first home computers. I was completely captivated by this amazing thing where you could create things, build things and create solutions to problems.
Even today I still have that same passion and fascination with technology.
The other theme, which I only realised recently, is to do with my parents. They ran a family business back in the 80’s, and whilst sitting around the dinner table they would discuss the issues and challenges that their business faced; getting the bills paid on time, HR issues, customer service issues.
Listening to that passively, I became sensitive to the problems that businesses were facing. Unfortunately my parents’ business failed and this threw our family into turmoil. It showed me the real life impact a failing small business can have.
So helping small businesses to succeed is a very personal thing to me, it’s the point of my career. The combination of my passion for technology and my conviction of supporting small businesses has shaped my career.
For the last thirty years I’ve been working in small startups and IT services businesses. I started in public companies, including Pegasus, who were one of the leaders in the PC era with - desktop window software. I then went to Microsoft, joining the ERP CRM team. And then the last decade has been with Xero.
I can’t imagine not being in this particular sector. I love it. I’m very fortunate that I’ve worked with some great businesses over the years.
Under your leadership, you took Xero UK from annual revenues of £50k to more than £60M. What advice can you give to other businesses who are looking to scale their business?
Xero emerged at a time when it was viable to build software in the cloud. Xero probably couldn’t have scaled to sixty million had it started ten years earlier. It was really the combination of mobile, broadband, cloud and iPhone, which gave the context for businesses like Xero to scale.
The world’s largest market is focused on consumers, but consumers don’t like to pay for things. It’s really hard to monetise consumer technology.
The second largest market is small businesses, who do have to spend money and they know it. They need to file their VAT and tax returns, business owners know they need to spend on tech to support them with this.
Until the cloud came along, it wasn’t economically viable for a software company to service the opportunity at scale. So some of the physical impediments that existed with starting a software or tech business twenty years ago no longer exist. The world of software has changed.
My advice would be to find a market that is large, has a real perceived need, therefore assume that someone would be willing to pay for that need. Find a market that is right for disruption or transformation.
Once you’ve found that market opportunity, make sure you have enough capital to do it properly. You need a clear vision of what your ultimate destination is. Think big and ahead of time and ask yourself, what would it look like in five years?
As an example - Xero don’t have a phone number. People had a real problem with that at the beginning, but that doesn’t scale with a million customers. There is no number of call centres that would be able to manage that demand. So we took a design decision not to do this. And I don’t regret it. Xero still service hundreds of thousands of business without a phone number.
You have joined The Link App as the Growth Board Advisor. What will you be looking to bring to the board?
I have taken a business and grown it in the UK. So, I’m on the board to offer my experience and help steer the business.
It’s in my DNA to support scaling businesses. If I can help Lauren to avoid the mistakes I made then that’s the biggest thing I can bring.
What was it about The Link App that made you want to join?
I thought it was great to see a female founder of a technology business, especially in a world where there aren’t enough women in the industry, let alone starting and leading a tech business. Lauren with The Link App was a great example of the kinds of businesses that I wanted to see coming through.
I could also see parallels between the world of accounting and law. Both are very old industries that haven't seen much change in the last fifty years, and are possibly coming to the end of where they can ignore that.
Xero did it with the accounting profession, and law is in the same boat. There’s a huge amount of disruption, which was long overdue, and I feel that the landscape of law will radically change.
Lauren saw an opportunity to disrupt and reinvent a new client experience in law. And whilst every single industry will face a change, law can expect to see a lot of change.
What are the current and future challenges facing law firms?
It’s easy for law firms to get wrapped up with their position and status. Regardless of that, it’s all about the customer you’re serving. Firms can lose sight of the fact that clients are the most important person to build their business around.
Customers today are a lot more demanding and discerning than they were twenty years ago. Consumers are familiar with using smartphone and web technology. They can organise an Uber in seconds, order food, book a hotel, pay for things online. Technology plays a big part in every aspect of their personal life.
Then you compare that to dealing with your lawyer, you’re thrown back to 1974. It’s very formal, very slow, and not very communicative or representative of customer experience expectations today.
Clients are way more tech-savvy and they are much more demanding of services, responsiveness, communications, and instant gratification.
If I can order a taxi in seconds, why does it take four days for my solicitor to reply to me?
Those law practices who fail to adapt won’t be here in twenty years time.
How do you see technology progressing the legal profession?
It is the only way forward.
The trick is to wholeheartedly embrace and embed technology, but not to lose sight of the relatability of human customer service and the trust that people have in another person. The combination of great technology, automation and people experience, that is the future.
What’s your experience in using law firms? And how would they benefit from using The Link App?
I’m actually using one right now. I’m in the process of buying a house and using our lawyer for conveyancing. We’re using them because we used them 15 years ago when we last bought a house.
I have to chase them regularly for updates, it’s a long and slow process. If they used The Link App, I wouldn’t have to keep emailing or calling them for updates.
Generally, I think using technology in the appropriate way to help customer and client experience is a wider benefit. The Link App would help them to be more responsive.
I want an answer almost immediately, and they could meet that demand with The Link App.
What does an ‘outstanding client experience’ look like to you?
It’s anticipating client needs and exceeding their expectations. Clients shouldn’t have to chase you for something. Your customer experience should be cohesive and connected and should lend itself to delivering incredibly happy clients.
People don’t buy products or services anymore, they buy experiences. They are measuring you on every touchpoint. Everything is being judged and measured, not just how good of a lawyer you are. Law firms need to take account of everything.
A lawyer needs to think about the entire experience for the client.
Where do you want to see The Link App in the next five years? And how will you support the business in achieving this objective?
They should still be leading the transformation, helping law firms realise the ambition to deliver an outstanding client experience. The Link App will be used by thousands of practitioners servicing hundreds of thousands of clients.
This is a huge time of industrial change. The Link App will be a big part of this change by redefining what it means to be a great law firm.
To help them achieve this objective, I will be supporting Lauren by lending an ear to guide her into making the right call to grow the business.
Why do law firms need The Link App?
The clients of law firms need the law firms to use The Link App.
This is an important distinction: it’s not about the law firm, it’s about the client.