As the new school year gets underway and students get back to class, it seems like a good time to share a few lessons on contact and relationship management. One group of ‘pupils’ for whom this information can be particularly relevant is new attorneys who are joining a firm for the first time and who are eager to get to the head of the class by focusing on marketing and business development early in their careers.
It may seem to many people that contact management skills should come naturally lawyers, for whom relationships are crucial. But, as CRM success consultants,
To help communicate the importance of centralized contact management, we have compiled 10 top tips:
- Think of contact management as an investment. Contacts are valuable commodities and investing just a little time up front can pay dividends in the future.
- Value your relationships. For attorneys, there is almost no more important contributor to career success.
- Capture complete information. Without key details, you can’t effectively communicate with contacts.
- Update contact information regularly. Up to 30% of contact information changes each year, so it’s
crucial to keep information current.
The reasons why attorneys manage their contacts in different ways isn’t important, but the challenge this presents for law firms is. A centralized collection of clean, correct and complete contacts is critical to effective marketing and business
development. Additionally, having contact and relationship information outside the firm’s central systems and security may present additional problems. As a result, many firms may find it important to get attorneys to develop consistent practices for centralized contact management.
So, what is the best way for firms to control the contact conundrum? First, it’s important to identify the scope of the problem.
Christina Fritsch, J.D. of CLIENTSFirst Consulting Inducted as Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management
Christina Fritsch, President and Founder of CLIENTSFirst Consulting LLC, and legal industry CRM expert has been inducted as a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management during the College’s
Futures Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
The College of Law Practice Management is an honorary organization made up of individuals who have made significant and sustained contributions to the field of law practice management over a period of years. The College formally recognizes lawyers, law school professors, administrators, consultants, officers of the government, access to justice professionals and others whose work has significantly contributed to and enhanced law practice management,
While formal contact management may be foreign to younger lawyers, this isn’t necessarily a generational issue. In fact, we now frequently find that even some of the most experienced lawyers are managing their contacts in different ways. The issue also isn’t caused by inattention or idleness. Actually, there are a number of valid reasons why changes in contact management methodologies have been taking place, such as:
- Attorneys are out of the office more often today, so it’s critical to have contacts on their mobile devices where they can easily access them
- Advances in search technology have made it easy to find contacts anywhere,
With another school year well underway, it seems like a good time to share a few lessons on contact and relationship management. One group of ‘pupils’ for whom this information can be particularly relevant is new attorneys who are joining a firm for the first time and who are eager to get to the head of the class by focusing on marketing and business development early in their careers.
It may seem to many people that contact management skills should come naturally to lawyers, for whom relationships are crucial. But, as CRM Success Consultants, we have trained literally thousands of attorneys on a number of CRM systems and,
Once you have come such a long way on your CRM marathon, it’s only natural to start looking for the finish line. You deserve a medal – or at least some sort of reward or recognition for getting this far, if nothing more than some rest and the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.
Unfortunately, the problem with looking for the CRM finish line is your assumption that there actually is one. I hate to be the one to break it to you but the CRM marathon never ends. This is because CRM is not a project,
When running a CRM marathon, you can sometimes become so focused on keeping up the pace that you forget to enjoy the scenery along the way. But if you sprint from the starting line at full speed, you can quickly lose steam. Instead, you need to maintain a steady pace – and it’s ok to give yourself some breaks along the way to catch your breath.
Taking small breaks during a marathon can actually be beneficial. They give you a chance to get your bearings and appreciate just how far you have come. You may also need time to reassess priorities.
To finish a CRM marathon, you will need patience and persistence. Honestly, almost no runner feels like getting up at 5 a.m. every day to hit the road, but real winners keep going. They know that if they persist, they can make it through to the finish line.
They also understand that CRM implementations can be a long and winding road. While there will be many accomplishments, there will also be setbacks. Out of nowhere, a key staff person quits. A professional’s new smart phone pours personal contacts into the database. The time and billing integration doubles the database with duplicates.
Along the CRM implementation route, data quality issues are a common hurdle for every organization. Here’s why: during a law firm CRM rollout, thousands of shared contacts quickly flow into the system from users. Some of these records contain incomplete or outdated information. Others are shared by multiple users, which will create a considerable number of duplicate records.
Attorneys are trained to notice errors, so if bad data is not addressed promptly, it will lead to distrust of the system. This is why preparing a data quality plan to manage user expectations from the start is essential.
If you want to win any race, you have to train. For training to be effective, you need to start well in advance of the race and don’t expect quick results. While inadequate training won’t get you to the finish line, pushing too hard can end up being painful.
CRM training is essential for all users and requires training plans customized to the needs of key groups and individuals. Marketing users need to focus on essential tasks such as contact categorization and segmenting, list building, event management and report generation. The data team needs to focus on data quality tasks and best practices.
It’s impossible to win any race without a good coach. Not everyone has had experience rolling out a CRM system before. Many firms also lack adequate internal resources or have limited bandwidth. As a result, asking for help isn’t just smart… it’s essential.
There are a number of resources you can turn to for support and assistance. Your CRM provider can be wealth of information. Colleagues at other firms who have rolled out a CRM in the past are also frequently willing to pass the baton and share tips and help you train.
As another alternative,
CRM should be a team sport. Trying to go it alone in implementing a CRM is not only painful, it’s impossible. A number of key stakeholders should be drafted to help ensure success.
The Marketing team is critical for defining a CRM strategy and assisting in the planning, communication and training. They should work with CRM users to ensure the system provides value, helps build relationships and enhances business development efforts, rather than being perceived as a glorified Rolodex.
The support of the firm’s IT department is also essential. Because they have traveled these paths before,
Before embarking on your CRM marathon, it’s important to plot the best course. To do this, it’s helpful to determine where you are now. Successful CRM implementations begin with a comprehensive assessment of your current situation. Think about the reasons your firm needs a CRM in the first place. What problems are you trying to solve? What processes are you trying to improve? What are you trying to accomplish?
With the information you gather from your needs assessment, you can begin setting goals to measure your progress. For a firm new to CRM, goals could be as simple as creating a central repository of clean and complete contacts or building reliable mailing or event lists.
The Evolution of (X)RM
To succeed with CRM, it’s helpful first to have some background. Law firm business development is all about relationships. So it is not surprising that there has been a continual and ongoing search for technology and tools to assist firms in discovering and leveraging these crucial relationships.
For over a decade, the relationship technology tool of choice for law firms was CRM (Client Relationship Management). A large number of firms attempted to deploy these systems to enhance client communication and service and gain relationship intelligence. But time has shown that it can be challenging to succeed with CRM.