In a similar vein, we’re experiencing especially fast growth in what we call risk information and risk analytics. We have what is probably the largest and most complete database of personal information in the United States. And we access, through legal means, information about people’s past employment, driving records, prior insurance claims, and a variety of other data. This allows us to offer law enforcement, insurance companies, financial institutions, employers, and lawyers the background they need on their clients, customers, witnesses, or opponents in a case.
S+B: What about social networks? Are they valuable research tools?
PROZES: Some social networks are better adapted to casual networking and some are better for business. Recently, we’ve created a variety of professionally focused online communities. For example, we’re transforming our Martindale-Hubbell (M-H) unit, which has traditionally been the database to go to when looking for a lawyer, into a set of tools to help lawyers take advantage of what the Web has to offer and to participate in social networks just for lawyers. We’re trying to help lawyers use the Web to find other professionals who might be able to lend their expertise or provide needed information. We’ll also build a small firm’s Web site or help it get on the front page of Google search results using search engine optimization.
Among other features, M-H Connected is tied into the LinkedIn social network. We have well over 3,000 lawyers participating. I encounter a lot of people using LinkedIn to try to sell me services. I wouldn’t necessarily call that helpful, but it does allow me to be aware of who’s out there. Facebook is different. It seems to me that it mostly offers an opportunity to connect with people from your past.
S+B: How do you maintain an innovative, entrepreneurial approach in a large organization?
PROZES: Whether a company is small or large, an entrepreneurial environment starts with the customer. You’ve got to understand what the customer needs. You’ve got to build something that specifically addresses those needs. You have to provide a complete service, a complementary service — not just technology, not just content.
You can’t simply intuit what customers want, or rely on sporadic, undisciplined feedback. You’ve got to have a methodology. We’re big believers in an approach for measuring customer service called Net Promoter Scores (NPS), which I introduced into the organization to measure just how happy customers are.
NPS is much more straightforward and simple than other ways of measuring customer satisfaction. Surveyed customers offer a response, on a 1 to 10 scale, to the question, Would you recommend us to others? They are then grouped into three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors. The percentage of Detractors is subtracted from the percentage of Promoters to arrive at the NPS. The simplicity of the methodology leads to clarity on what steps need to be taken to improve quality.
S+B: What is the most important advice you’d give top managers?
PROZES: I think the most important thing that top managers can do is to walk the talk. In my case that means going and seeing customers or calling customers myself and following through with those customers on what they like and don’t like. It’s the same thing with employees: Managers must get out and listen to them. For instance, at four o’clock this afternoon I’ve got another in an ongoing series of telephone conferences for all employees to talk about what’s happening at LexisNexis.
S+B: What changes have been made to assure customers that LexisNexis has put ChoicePoint’s privacy problems behind it?
PROZES: Maintaining security is not a static process; it requires continuous evaluation and adjustment of security procedures to address new threats. We continue to adapt our systems to respond to evolving security threats and have made significant changes. We’ve established a privacy, security, and compliance organization to reinforce the responsible use and protection of information at LexisNexis. We have limited the access to sensitive, personal information by screening customers, vendors, and employees more strictly, and we’ve enhanced our data audit and compliance procedures with better technology and monitoring.