Build it and they will come
Let’s ignore the months (and costs) of project meetings, configuring the system to your requirements and the phased roll out across the firm. There is now a new but empty CRM in place for your firm to start leveraging. What are the expectations (or change management) across the firm about entering contact information in a timely manner and who is ultimately responsible?
I can hear the uproar already about importing client data from the firm’s Practice Management System or other core systems to populate the CRM. Think about it, if your Practice Management System was completely up to date (not just the person you’re sending the invoices to) with client contact details, industry sector, prospects, etc, why are there so many excel spreadsheets across professional services firms for business development and marketing purposes?
- Lawyers: exceptionally busy professionals whose main (some would argue only) KPI is ‘billable hours’ are not likely to make updating a CRM a priority on an ongoing basis;
- Business Development & Marketing: ironically these are the people/teams that benefit most from having access to client and prospect information to better support and drive the firm’s key strategic initiatives. However, with the accountants and lawyers holding the client relationships and engaging in client/prospect meetings, how do the Business Development & Marketing teams capture this information on an ongoing basis to populate the CRM. There are a few firms that have limited the CRM rollout to strictly the Business Development & Marketing team (i.e. under 10 users) but what information are these firms actually capturing about their clients/prospects and how accurate can this information be in such limited use.
- Executive Assistants: as EA’s are supporting multiple partners with numerous urgent priorities, updating a CRM with contact details in a timely manner may suffer.
The Promised Land
Fast forward 12 – 24 months after going ‘live’ with your CRM. If you were overwhelmed by everyone’s enthusiasm about populating the new CRM, just wait for the reaction about the ongoing data integrity to ensure the CRM is valuable and relevant to the key stakeholders across the firm. To be fair, many larger firms with an existing CRM system recognise that data integrity is an ongoing challenge and will look to address this by hiring a Data Steward / Marketing Systems Admin / Client Systems Coordinator / etc (not sure if this was included in the TCO when purchasing the CRM). As an example, over the past few months there have been a number of firms advertising for similar roles and have specifically highlighted the following tasks as part of the job description:
- Administration of quality data initiatives;
- Manage bulk data changes;
- Resolve data conflicts between the CRM and Outlook address books;
- Managing change management and new contact reviews;
- Updating client contact records; and
- Investigate and resolve data compliance issues.
The good news is there are multiple options currently available that can work as a stand-alone solution or in collaboration with a CRM solution to address these data quality issues. Most of these solutions can provide much more value than just data integrity. In essence, they have an email signature analysis tool that can capture name, job title, email, phone number, physical address, and social media links if these are included as part of the email signature block. These solutions provide real-time communication information and 360° relationship mapping, to ensure all the firm’s contacts, clients and referrers are captured automatically. This automatic capture enables the firm to spend more time focusing on their key strategic initiatives and providing value to their clients.