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CRM Success by the Numbers… It’s As Easy as 1, 2, 3

CRM Success by the Numbers… It’s As Easy as 1, 2, 3, CRM MetricsWhen people who are tasked with responsibilities for CRM systems are asked to define success, many words come to mind – words like challenging, demanding, difficult, stressful, time-consuming… painful, impossible, unattainable… changing jobs, retiring, quitting, outa here… It can be enough to have you contemplating the view from the ledge in your office.

Come down off that ledge. It’ll be ok. Realistically, CRM success doesn’t have to evoke feelings of pain or frustration. Instead the thought of CRM success can actually bring you a sense of inner calm and peace – even feeling of achievement or accomplishment. How is this possible, you ask?

Often of the biggest frustrations about CRM success is that often it isn’t clearly defined. How can you achieve something that isn’t being measured? The best way to define success – and to stay off that ledge – often involves utilizing numbers – like goals or metrics. They say that what is measured gets done. Measurements also let you know when you are making progress and doing the right things. But what numbers should you use…?

CRM Metrics:  Let Me Count the Ways – and Dollars

So what kind of  numbers or CRM metrics might make sense? Ideally, you want to find ones that are particularly relevant to the attorneys and the firm. Often these will be the numbers that are frequently preceded by a dollar sign – ones that relate directly to top line revenue or enhanced growth opportunities, like:

  •  Increased numbers of opportunities for business development
  •  Increases in revenue from key Clients
  •  Increases in newly discovered relationships
  •  Increases in cross selling opportunities between practices and attorneys
  •  Increases in referral business

Then there are CRM metrics related to dollars saved, which also can contribute dollars to the bottom line. Some of these include:

  • Reduction in the amount of attorney and staff time spent on list management
  • Reduction in the amount of time spent on repetitive or redundant tasks
  • Reduction in the number of redundant and disruptive internal e-mail communications
  • Reduction in the amount of time required to input contacts into the firm systems
  • Improved tracking and management of marketing and business development expenses

In addition to all of these numbers, there are additional numbers you can select based on the stage of your CRM lifecycle…

Proxies for ProgressProxies for Progress

There are also some good numbers that can be used as proxies for CRM success and progress, especially during the initial stages of a rollout. This is a time when it can be a bit premature to try to count actual Clients or dollars in the door. But, at the same time, we may also have to deal with the reality that sometimes the people who just wrote that big check for the system may have slightly less-than-reasonable expectations – like thinking that once the system has been installed, money should start falling from the sky.

To reassure any of your key constituencies during the CRM rollout phases, you can consider metrics such as:

  • Numbers of attorney contacts and records cleaned to prepare for system installation
  • Participation levels of key groups including partners, other attorneys, secretaries and/or other key staff members
  • Numbers of assistants or attorney or attorneys trained on the benefits
  • Numbers of missing required data elements added and…
  • Numbers of prizes awarded to assistants or attorneys for achieving goals or progress

Once the rollout progresses and you realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel (and it isn’t a train) there are even more numbers you can use…

CRM Success by the Numbers… How Many Licks Does It Take?

At Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to resist a few candy references. So, as the rollout progresses, you may think you have this CRM project licked. In fact, you may even start to think that sweet success is so close you can taste it. You’ve gotten the hard parts out of the way: The end users are on board. The installation is done. The invoice is paid. Now you think it’s all downhill from here, right?

Not always. What you may not have considered is that as more and more users are rolled out, all the new information pouring into the system can actually gum things up. During this phase, you if you don’t get on the stick and really focus on data quality, things can quickly get out of hand.

So how many numbers does it take to achieve CRM data quality? Plenty. Start by gauging the ongoing data cleanup. Good CRM metrics here include:

  •  Number of contact records cleaned
  •  Number of duplicates merged
  •  Number of records with complete contact information
  •  Number of bad e-mail addresses fixed

All these numbers can help you to stay on top of the data quality which can keep the whole CRM project from going sour.

0-Sum Game

CRM Success is not a zero-sum game. By definition, in a zero-sum game, the sum of the winnings and losses of the various players is always zero. Basically, it’s winner-take-all.

In contrast, if the CRM Success game is played right, everyone wins. The attorneys get more Clients, the firm makes more money, the Clients get better service, and the Marketing Department and CRM manager get to keep their jobs. The problem is figuring out how to play the game… especially when there are no written rules. This is where some game strategy can come in handy.

While CRM can’t be everything to everyone, it can help some key law firm constituencies with some challenging issues. On a good day, CRM can be pretty effective at improving communication, coordination, Client service and business development – things that all seemed to be important in the law firm the last time I checked. In fact, I bet if you asked almost any attorney in the building if any of those things is on their “important-stuff- I-need-to-do” list, at least one of these things is somewhere near the top.

But those same attorneys would never be able to tell you how CRM can help them – because most of them have no idea what it does. Some of them don’t even know what it is. But that’s ok because it’s not their job to know. It’s ours…

Stretch Goals

Stretch GoalsTo really achieve results and ROI with CRM, you have to put metrics in place to enhance and track success. It’s a fact that what gets measured gets done. As an added benefit, achieving goals can give everyone involved a feeling of accomplishment so they appreciate that the project is progressing and the time and money hasn’t been wasted.

But the worst thing you can do is to set unrealistic goals or metrics – what some people call “stretch goals.” In my experience, people who like to combine those two words are often the same ones who make unrealistic demands to get a challenging project accomplished in an impractical amount of time with insufficient resources.

Here are some of the “stretch goals” that are often set during CRM rollouts:

  •  We want 100% data quality
  •  We have to clean up ALL  lists right away
  •  Let’s put EVERYONE through an hour of classroom training
  •  We should enter EVERY business development activity
  •  We are planning to roll out the system to the WHOLE FIRM ALL AT ONCE so we can get immediate results
  •  And, my personal favorite: We have to get ALL of the attorneys to use it – without making ANY additional work for them – and without irritating ANYONE.

Good luck with that one.

Instead of achieving enhanced results, in most cases, setting these types of “stretch goals” actually ends up being counterproductive. I mean, who is willing to bend over backwards to try to accomplish goals that they don’t believe are even achievable…

Too Many Numbers – or Balls – in the Air
Too Many Numbers – or Balls – in the Air, CRM Metrics

The CRM success goals you set should be measurable, achievable and agreed upon by the firm’s key CRM stakeholders. They should also be relevant. In a law firm, that means saving time, solving problems or, best of all, increasing revenue. Most importantly they should be limited in number. If you try to keep too many CRM success balls in the air, you will often end up dropping them all.

Here are some relevant goals that I’ve seen firms set – and achieve:

  • Clean up just one list for an upcoming mailing or event – and then another – and another
  • Categorize a group of contacts such as competitors or vendors so that we don’t inadvertently invite them to our next event
  • Get one BD-focused Practice Group to enter their reimbursable business development activities with prospects
  • Print reports of marketing activities with top Clients to provide at the monthly client team meeting
  • Input industry information or codes for the firm’s top 100 (or 200 or 500) Clients so that lists can be generated for industry-focused publications or events
  • Build an expert witness database for the litigation group
  • Create some specialized fields for firm personnel records to track languages, education or expertise for pitches
  • Here’s a particularly (or not) relevant goal for quite a few firms: this year, let’s fix the holiday card list. Fixing that one may just pay for the CRM system. Better get started in August though…

Golden Years Golden Years

As your CRM implementation ‘grows up,’ there are a whole lot more numbers that become important. You have to keep your system healthy as it becomes more ‘mature. You certainly don’t want your CRM getting ‘age spots’… or losing its ‘vision.’

As your implementation reaches a ripe old age, which can be as early as 3 to 5 years after the rollout (CRM ‘years’ are a bit like ‘dog’ years that way) you have to make sure it gets a regular physical to keep it in shape and make sure it doesn’t lose its ‘muscle.’ You should run all the necessary tests to make sure it is still providing the firm and attorneys with value and ROI.

Here are a few CRM metrics that can help to identify this value:

  • Numbers of relationships identified for business development
  • Numbers of records categorized to help with targeted marketing
  • Reductions in the amount of bounced e-mail communications
  • Reduction in the cost of returned mail
  • Numbers of key contacts added to mailing or event lists
  • Numbers of industry codes added to key contacts

All of these things can help the firm save billable time and money and enhance marketing and business development. The return you will receive on any of these can allow the system to pay for itself in time. In fact, if your CRM system is doing even a few of these things – and none of the attorneys are actively campaigning to toss it out the window – it’s definitely ‘golden.’


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