As we emerge from the initial COVID-19 disruption and settle into the new normal of remote working and a dispersed workforce, regular business operations must resume. For some firms, the challenges of business development (BD) may be made worse by issues such as maintaining data quality and securing fee earner engagement, which have been difficult even in a typical office environment.
However, BD executives may also find that users who were previously difficult to engage are now more open to new business activity. Not only might they have more time in their days, their traditional approaches to secure new matter instructions may be somewhat harder to execute during a lockdown and isolation.
BD executives may find the following key approaches useful to pursue:
Create a remote data quality strategy
It isn’t too farfetched to say that in a remote environment, the customer relationship management (CRM) system practically represents the BD executives themselves. If the system is well organized and current, it will speak well of them; if it’s inaccurate and contains stale data, then it may reflect poorly on the executives who are running new business campaigns.
A remote data quality management strategy is imperative. Here are some areas to focus on:
Archive irrelevant contacts – Purge and archive contacts in LexisNexis® InterAction® that are unknown to people in the firm, have too many white spaces in the contact record, have not been engaged within a defined period, and are not associated with any marketing, BD, or matter-related activities. This will ensure that you have the right contacts so any engagement with them is relevant and meaningful. Also, a smaller database will be simpler to maintain—quality over quantity in this case. Plus, user searches will run much faster and deliver better results.
DCM rules and the ticket inbox – Many executives will be reaching out to contacts, including those who they haven’t connected with for a while. It’s therefore highly likely that the number of tickets that come into the ticket inbox might increase, too. While on the face of it, the high ticket count may be discouraging and even overwhelming, re-evaluating the tickets (especially the review tickets) and editing the data change management (DCM) rules may help solve the problem. In the first instance, it will help “stop the bleeding,” so to speak. An InterAction administrator whose ticket inbox had 5500 tickets was able to reduce the volume of incoming review tickets by 90 percent.
Also look at some of the other InterAction tools, such as Data Minder, which provides rules-based data normalization to help ensure that basic data guidelines for standardization are appropriately applied to the records by default.
Duplicate management – For some InterAction users, the CRM system is going to be their lifeline as they work remotely. Prioritize the essential contacts and de-duplicate their records and information. Top tip: Merge company data first and then individual contact data. Because of the association between companies and individuals, the changes made in the company data will automatically trickle down to the individuals’ records.
Engage remote users
There are several InterAction functionalities that help remote users, particularly fee earners and their assistants, stay engaged with CRM and BD. Some areas for consideration:
Contact care – This doesn’t require dedicating a huge amount of time, but assistants to fee earners could make a current contact list for later review, adding to the InterAction database in the relevant lists, as appropriate. These lists could be categorized by events, practice groups, holiday lists, and so on. The same should be done for marketing and BD lists so that the campaigns are targeted and effective.
For firms that have the Message Center feature turned on in InterAction, it will be worthwhile to spend time updating contacts in this space in the system: accept pending updates, share unresolved contacts, and even review the contact settings, smart connect rules, and other processes that make recording contact information easier and automatic.
BD activities and working lists – For many users who are experiencing a slowdown in activity, this may be a good time to work through the backlog of pending tasks: record expenses, enter details of BD activities from calendars into InterAction, and turn on calendar appointments to automatically capture important contact information. Similarly, end users could create working lists to group data into matters, practice groups, holiday, and so on.
Education opportunities – It’s a good idea to use training to keep users involved, through virtual lunch and learns, weekly tips and tricks, and self-learning videos. You can also take online courses at your own pace through LexisNexis® University.
Regardless of what shape the business environment takes in the post-COVID-19 world, these activities will go a long way in making BD more efficient and targeted. Firms that take this opportunity to revisit and reset their processes are bound to benefit immediately—and in the future, too. These tips are, in reality, best practices that are worth embedding into business functions.