Often, CRM adoption isn’t a success in firms, not because of the technology system in use, but because users don’t appreciate the value the discipline can provide them. Time and again, I hear about firms wanting to ‘change’ their CRM system. What they need to do is ‘change’ the perception and positioning of the discipline so that it becomes relevant to the organisation.
As an overarching rule, good communication is the number one principle that must underly any CRM initiative. To change the perception of the discipline to get more users on board the CRM train, any repositioning exercise needs to answer the ‘what’s in it for me’ question, be that for the individual users, the firm or indeed its clients. Here are some suggested arguments:
Well, you will look well informed! You will know who in the firm is engaging with your clients, on what aspects and how often. Likewise, the CRM system will enable you to understand how your clients are responding to the wider marketing communications initiatives of the firm, thereby allowing you to leverage those engagements to further business.
In this people-led legal business, relationship intelligence is valuable. With CRM, you will also be able to uncover hidden relationships that you weren’t previously aware of, for business advantage. For instance, you might find that a fee earner in your firm’s corporate/commercial practice has a good relationship with a contact who happens to be a decision maker for selecting a firm on a new matter that you are interested in securing. Could you leverage this relationship?
The organisation will project the image of a joined-up firm to clients and the market. The CRM system will provide visibility of the firm’s wider network and ecosystem. A partner based in Zurich, for example, will have access to the same information as a senior executive based in London.
CRM will help the firm achieve its business objectives in a strategic and methodical manner. For instance, the key business development objective of a Magic Circle law firm was to strengthen its position further in the banking sector. To this end, the firm initiated a key client management programme in the CRM system, identifying the top 20 clients in the sector by profitability, revenue, services and relationship strength. Based on this information, for each of the 20 clients, the tactical plans were tracked from within the CRM system to realise this objective.
CRM will also help with risk identification and mitigation. For example, if the information in the CRM system shows that the head of your litigation practice is the only individual in the firm who has a strong relationship with a select key client, it will raise a red flag and a call to action to rectify the situation so that should the practice lead leave, his or her departure won’t put the business at risk.
When the client contacts the firm, regardless of who they speak to, the organisation will know who they are. This in-depth understanding of the client will ensure that the individual enjoys a consistent experience with the firm. Also, an in-depth understanding of clients’ organisation will facilitate proactivity on the part of the firm, regardless of where the client is based in the world. Based on the firm’s understanding of their client’s strategy of expanding into a new sector or jurisdiction, the CRM system could be interrogated to identify professionals in the organisation with the right in-house legal experience in order to proactively support the client abroad.
All this collectively, will facilitate a global and consistent brand image for the firm, in the eyes of clients and the wider market.
If you are looking to reposition CRM in your firm, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of delivering training that is suitable for each type of user. The training must answer the ‘what’s in it for me’ question, supported by real-life scenarios that will resonate with the users. Furthermore, pay attention to the method of training. For example, train all the firm’s personal assistants collectively, but there is value in training the Partner and his/her personal assistant together given that they work closely on a day to day basis.
Finally, look to incentivise the CRM users. It’s like gamification – create leader boards to highlight the top users of the solution in the firm; or set up the CRM system to raise red flags against the names of individuals not inputting data into the solution and such. In one law firm a wooden spoon is sent to the individuals who haven’t inputted into the CRM system for a defined period.
If you are struggling to garner CRM adoption in your firm and would like to reposition the solution, speak to your InterAction Client Advisors. They can help you initiate change in the firm. Repositioning a CRM system is a better approach to changing the solution. The latter is akin to ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ – it will achieve nothing as the issues with user adoption will remain, not to mention the additional (unnecessary) cost of deploying a new system that the firm will have to incur.