Moneypenny: bringing AI to personalised communications
As Moneypenny continues to grow, Joanna Swash, CEO, talks to Business Chief about what innovations are being incorporated to improve working efficiency and client experience.
Used by four of the ‘Magic Circle’ law businesses and 60% of the top 200 law firms, Moneypenny has a huge portfolio of customers using its services. The communications outsourcing firm enables constant communication for its clients, depending on their needs: “We’ve got a wide range of products and services for businesses of all sizes, from the one-man band who needs us a couple of times a week, to a fully outsourced switchboard,” explains Joanna Swash, Global CEO of Moneypenny. “No matter who they are or what their business sector is, we’re taking calls or chats for them. The way that we’re a bit different is by giving businesses a person that they know and trust, so it’s not a call centre model. We offer dedicated receptionists, dedicated PAs, because the relationships that you’ve got between businesses and their outsource partners are just so important.”
Swash joined Moneypenny in 2005 as the first salesperson for the company. “I’ve seen the firm grow from about 20 employees to 750. The founders, Ed Reeves and Rachel Clacher, have always recruited people who do things that they couldn’t, which allows people to grow and flourish. So straight away, I found my niche. Now, as a leader, I think it’s so important that you hire people that are much better than you,” Swash says. In the last year alone, Moneypenny bought the Made Simple Group, received investment from ECI partners, and also created plans to make further acquisitions. The company has also recently hired a new Chief Marketing Officer and is looking into a Chief Technology Officer. Despite its clear growth since it was established in 2000, the firm has continued to operate as a small business. “The culture and the feeling of the business hasn't changed. That’s something we’ve been really great at: keeping the feeling of a small business. We would hate to dilute that because it’s who we are, it’s in our DNA,” she adds.
For Moneypenny, ensuring it offers its clients the best match for their business is crucial. “Our ethos is to give a business the same kind of person they would employ themselves if they came to the door for an interview,” notes Swash. “If it was a vet coming on board, we’d give them somebody who absolutely loves animals.” With a focus on providing a personal touch to its offerings, the business has endeavoured to incorporate that element into its new innovations. “Now it’s all about introducing knowledge bases, chatbots, different ways of working. We also think natural language switchboards will be the next thing for us,” she continues.
“Technology not only helps us technically do our job, it also allows us to surpass expectations with our clients as well. It’s our duty to come up with products and services that our clients wouldn’t normally have access to,” notes Swash. Moneypenny’s adoption of technology is twofold: its used for client-facing tasks and internally. The firm is using cloud-based phone systems to serve its clients, which Swash argues “have to be the best available”. Moneypenny has also leveraged artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance its internal functions, with employees using the bespoke AI software dubbed “Rita” on a daily basis. “Rita is already processing data and is 190,000 times smarter every day,” the CEO explains. Moneypenny uses 15mn client communications per year and attains five learnings from each one. These learnings are then fed back into the AI engine, improving its intelligence and efficiency. “To help our staff do a brilliant job for clients, our technology has to be quick and responsive. It also needs to have the right information available at employees’ fingertips. This enables us to have natural conversations, whether or not that’s on the phone or on chat,” she adds.
As digital transformation enables the firm to grow and become more valuable, Moneypenny’s employees are quickly adapting to new changes. “We always say to everybody, clients and staff, ‘We’re on a journey’. When you think about the team, as long as you invest in them and give them time to learn new things and tell them why it's important, I think you get everybody get on board. You gain the trust of employees by being open, and they really trust us as an organisation. We’ve got such a low staff turnover. We get hold of the right kind of people and we invest in them and help them grow,” says Swash.
With Moneypenny continuing to expand its operations, regional growth is also on the horizon: “We’re focusing on consolidating our position,” Swash enthuses. “We are one of the world’s leading outsource communications provider and we have made some really good inroads into the US market. We have 50 people over there at the moment – we’ve expanded slowly but surely, and we know we’ve got really firm foundations there.” As well as growing its US operations, the firm plans to launch new tech products to strengthen its clients’ loyalty to the brand within the next five years. Swash anticipates this will lead to a greater percentage of its revenue deriving from digital sales. “So where do I see the company going? I see that we’re growing,” she claims.