Meet... Pat Fox, IO's new Operations Director - Intelligent Office

Pat is the newest member of the Intelligent Office senior team. Having spent 20 years working with magic and silver circle law firms as part of Mitie’s document management business, Pat is now Intelligent Office’s Operations Director. Here, he talks about his new role, secrets of successful outsourcing, and learning to trust his instincts.

WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AT INTELLIGENT OFFICE?

My role is one that focuses on managed services within the legal and professional services sector, with responsibilities for building long term, mutually beneficial client relationships. I am a great believer that a successful contract is all about engaging with the onsite teams, managing change delicately, whilst ensuring that we develop and innovate the service.  My role also includes leading our procurement strategy, reviewing our use of technology to ensure that we are continually at the forefront of digital solutions, and supporting on new bids and sales opportunities.

AND BEFORE JOINING THE COMPANY?

I spent the past 20 years at Mitie’s document management business starting as an account manager, progressing to account director, operations director, and latterly leading the business. My key responsibility was managing strategic relationships with major law firm clients. When the business was sold last year to Swiss Post Solutions, I felt it was time for a new challenge.

WHAT APPEALED ABOUT INTELLIGENT OFFICE?

I like the culture and diversity of the business and I have always known that IO is seen as a trusted partner who focuses on embedding innovation into business processes.  The business works with clients in collaboration and has a genuine understanding of how to support customers so they can get on with the core responsibilities of their “day to day” roles.  In the wake of Covid, the flexibility of support Intelligent Office can offer via its onsite, offsite and remote services was also appealing. This will be a core requirement of our customers in the next 12-18 months. Finally, in this market, it is also refreshing to work for a company whose senior leadership team are predominantly female, with a diverse workforce.

HOW DOES INTELLIGENT OFFICE DIFFER FROM THE COMPETITION?

We are already established as a business that clients can trust and one that delivers, but I also believe that our focus on our people and our ability to meet clients’ changing needs and to move quickly, makes us stand out in the market.  The sense of community and engagement that we create makes us an ideal alternative to the bigger, more impersonal outsourcers, where you can sometimes be seen as “just another customer”. We’re agile, accessible, and quick to make decisions as there is very little hierarchy within our business.

WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF GOOD CLIENT SERVICE?

It’s about consistent service, innovation and building strong internal customer relationships. For me, that starts with leadership – you need a leader on site; someone who listens and takes responsibility. No noise – fix things quickly and manage the situation! Good client service takes trust, and that’s particularly important in the legal sector. It’s never about a quick buck but a long-term relationship that brings benefit to both businesses. Innovation is important too. It is important to innovate, drive the service forward and never stand still! I am a great believer that we are there to develop our teams, provide a consistent high level of service and enable our customers to focus on the core responsibilities of their roles

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT WORKING WITH LAW FIRMS?

I love the culture; you are not “just a supplier“ but part of their team. I like that they invest in the service and always strive for best in class. They care about their people, irrespective of them being outsourced, and take a real interest in how they are being treated. They are in fact culturally very similar to Intelligent Office!

WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS FOR SUCCESSFUL TUPE TRANSFER?

For a law firm, anything that impacts on fee earners is a huge risk, so it has to be done right. A lot of law firms still have PAs, document production, mail room, scanning etc in-house, so when they are looking at a first-generation outsourcing, it can be unsettling for the teams. Full HR and client engagement is essential. The people moving across need to feel that both parties care about what is happening to them. It needs to be managed delicately and ‘done with’ not ‘done to’ them. Being open and honest and answering all questions is critical to a successful transfer.  Whilst the people transferring may not, initially, be happy about it, it is important that they respect the process as being fair and transparent.

AND LONGER TERM, ANY TIPS FOR ENSURING A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE?

Once in, it’s not one size fits all, you’ve got to get to the heart of the culture. Law firms are similar in many ways but also very different. One thing that can be overlooked is buy-in from the client, not just to the deal but also to the fact that they won’t be running the service and an external provider may want to do things differently. Our business services managers need to be visible and hear from people using the service. It gives fee earners a point of contact and enables us to respond to any issues quickly and without fuss. It was satisfying to hear from one client how many problems had disappeared the moment Intelligent Office took over!

HOW IS THE LEGAL MARKET CHANGING?

Understandably, Covid-19 has had a significant impact, particularly with people working from home. I am sure that firms are thinking about enabling their employees to work more productively wherever they work. As a result, I think the market will see much more outsourcing, as law firms focus on what they do well and bring in specialist providers to run other services. For Intelligent Office, the opportunity is huge because we have a mature, well run, off-site document production and PA support service. I think attitudes to the location of support services has also changed, so there is an attitude of let’s look at what tasks need to be done and how and where they can be delivered. Perhaps the pre-Covid model has gone for good?

WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN?

I remember one old boss saying, “Pat, you’ve got to give a bit of yourself to get something back.” Client relationships are human relationships, the same as any other. You have to be respectful, but also want to work with each other.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT AT WORK?

I was off for three months between leaving Swiss Post and starting at Intelligent Office, and am desperate to get going again! I play golf and treated myself to a new set of clubs just before Christmas, albeit they haven’t improved my game! I love football; I’m a Chelsea fan.

BIGGEST LESSON

I think my biggest lesson is to trust your instincts. I’ve had a gut feel and ignored it, and gone another way, and it’s gone wrong. I’ve learned that I can read a situation and be confident that I’ve made the right decision. Ultimately, that is the only way to learn!

GET IN TOUCH

To find out more about Intelligent Office’s innovative approach to delivering support service excellence, contact Jo Styles, Director of Business Development and Marketing, or complete the form below and a member of our team will get in touch.