Part 1 of this article focused on laying the foundation to achieve CRM success. Once you have assessed your needs, gained the support of your key stakeholders, and selected a CRM vendor, you are ready for Part 2, which focuses on planning for the rollout and maintaining ongoing success.
Roll Out Gradually
Don’t make the mistake of attempting a “boil the ocean” implementation, deploying too many features to too many people in too big a hurry. Firm-wide rollouts are usually a bad idea because without taking the time to properly test the system, any problems or missteps you run into can be amplified exponentially.
Instead, begin with a pilot group of lawyers and assistants who have an interest in participating, are invested in system success, and have time to provide the critical feedback that is needed to improve the rollout for the rest of the firm. Most importantly, roll out the system to address the needs and challenges identified during the assessment. Each group should be exposed to the features of the system that can best address their unique needs. Follow the same plan when moving forward with the broader rollout: deploy in groups that share common goals or objectives and match features to their needs.
As with any type of technology implementation, ongoing communication and training will be imperative. End users need to understand the reasons for CRM and, most importantly, what’s in it for them. Create benefit statements for key groups. Provide relevant information and answer questions. Get firm leaders to sign off on key communications to demonstrate support. Most importantly, when good things happen, share successes.
Additionally, as marketers, we all know that a bit of branding can make anything (even CRM) more appealing. Come up with a theme for the rollout, and don’t be afraid to have some fun. Yes, I also just used the words fun and CRM in the same sentence. Create campaigns and contests and give away prizes to drive participation.
Finally, even if you get everything else right, CRM won’t succeed without effective training. It’s important to develop training plans and materials targeted to the needs of key groups. Assistants should attend classes customized to their work routines, while training for lawyers should focus on business processes, not buttons to push. To really enhance lawyer engagement, training should take place in their offices and should take no more than 30 minutes. This training is often most effective when it’s done by someone who can communicate CRM benefits, which is why many firms have the marketing team lead the lawyer training. Also, because CRM is ongoing, training doesn’t end after the rollout. Be sure to create continuing education for new hires and laterals. Finally, to get people to attend training, don’t forget one of the biggest keys to CRM success in a law firm: food!
Keep It Rolling
You’ve rolled out your new CRM. You’ve communicated effectively and gained support and adoption. Your CRM users have been trained. What’s left to do?
Dedicate Required Resources
Too often, firms are willing to spend money on a CRM system but don’t budget for other essential resources. More important than the investment in the technology can be the time and human resources required for ongoing success. Dedicated CRM staffing is not only necessary, it is essential.
For all firms, a CRM project manager will be beneficial during the rollout. Larger firms may also need a dedicated full- or part-time CRM manager for ongoing success. Data quality resources are also imperative, especially during the rollout when shared lawyers’ contacts flow into the system creating a significant number of duplicates. Additionally, an estimated 30% of contact data becomes outdated each year as people move, change jobs, get married, and have other status changes. This means ongoing data quality support will be required because if lawyers don’t trust the data, they won’t trust the system.
CRM isn’t a project or an implementation. It’s a fundamental change—and improvement–in how your firm manages its most important assets: its relationships. As a result, CRM deployments shouldn’t end, they should evolve. There will always be new problems to solve and new business to bring in. So be sure to plan for the future and continually explore features, upgrades, and integrations.
Don’t Do It Alone
If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. Few people have the extensive experience to successfully deploy a CRM system by themselves. Still fewer are excited about expending the effort to get this experience. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. You can reach out to CRM providers for assistance, engage experienced consultants or, even better, ask for advice from LMA colleagues.
Even though the ultimate goal of CRM is to make things easier, it does require considerable effort. With the right strategy, technology, and processes in place—and the right people helping you along the way—you can claim CRM success.