By Darryl Cross, Practice Group Leader, Professional Service Firm Leaders and Partners, Intapp and Michael Warren, VP, CRM Practice, Wilson Allen
While many firms have a common goal in mind – connect with clients in ways to drive growth – the journey to accomplish this goal is anything but typical.
Every firm has hurdles to overcome – from data quality issues to siloed systems and teams. In part two of our four-part Intapp and Wilson Allen webinar series, Legal CRM: Practical tips to align the firm with client needs to drive growth, we describe how firms can overcome these challenges and more. We look at the key people, roles, responsibilities, and relationships needed to properly align the business to gain new clients, grow existing client relationships, and build a better brand, answering practical questions such as:
- How do we assess the talent and experience we currently have to identify gaps?
- Does our firm have the right roles and responsibilities defined to serve clients proactively?
- In building books of business, do we have the appropriate relationships to fuel growth?
The session begins with a focus on the human resources elements of CRM success and offers practical ways to address three key aspects of CRM implementations – people, processes, and technology:
People – Appreciate their importance
With CRM implementations, firms often focus on methods and technology first. But when it comes to client relationship management, clients and relationships are all about people. To align the firm with client needs, firms must instead prioritize how to fully leverage its people, their knowledge, and experience to achieve your growth strategies. To succeed, firms need to pull together disparate pieces of data that reside in various software systems to explore the rich data you’ve collected.
For example, consider increasing your focus on systems for managing experience and expertise. In the past, firms perhaps thought more about how to institutionalize the individual connections that people had (i.e. who they knew). But harnessing what they know and what they have learned as part of the delivering work is an incredibly valuable tool to help develop business. Imagine if you were able to quickly and easily find cases or professionals who had worked on cases in specific industries, with specific clients, where they had resolved specific challenges for their clients? How valuable could that data be in responding to new opportunities?
Processes – Build on your strengths
There are a lot of aspects of processes that affect law firm operations. But as it relates to human resources, firms need to think about how their people impact how well your processes are executed. To achieve the best performance, consider focusing on those processes that you know the best and become an expert in them before branching out. Start with the processes that touch clients, such as intake, conflicts, billing, time, etc. Identify which process improvements will increase the experience of your clients and then make focus on how you can improve them.
One of the challenges that business development teams often have is understanding the referral network that supports their client relationships. By connecting the client intake process to CRM, it becomes possible to link a new client or engagement with the person who referred the work and thus closing the loop and gaining this knowledge.
Technology – Advance your business strategy
Think of technology as a tool that catalyzes changes to your firm’s business strategy. There’s no purpose for a CRM system on its own if it cannot be presented as the tool that is there to fulfill that strategy. Take a look at those strategies and then identify ways to facilitate improvements in how your practice groups or offices or lateral partners work together. Do you have people in the right spots to improve processes and fine-tune the technology? Focus on small wins that you can scale to get the firm to where it wants to go.
For example, most firms’ websites will list the industries in which they specialize. Most likely, your firm has a sector-focused go-to-market strategy. Your CRM system should reflect this structure. By linking systems together, as well as looking at linking in outside data sources, you can profile clients in line with the way the firm presents itself to the outside world.
Why is the human element so crucial to legal CRM?
If the purpose of your CRM is to drive the firm’s strategy for growth, then your systems need to enable you to leverage the firm’s experience, expertise, connections, and understanding of its clients. For example, you can build stronger proposal teams by sourcing the right people that have the right knowledge and the right experience and background for client presentations and pitches. When you win the work, you can then build client teams that are appropriately skilled and have a deep understanding of the client, which is what clients expect most from their advisors.
By being able to capture the experience and the expertise that your people have in different sectors, and pair it with a deep understanding of your clients’ business, behaviors, and attitudes, you’re much more likely to align the right people to the right clients to grow your book of business.
Understanding how to leverage your data to identify, win, and keep high-value clients and run a more profitable business is ultimately what CRM can help you do.
Watch the on-demand webinar to learn more
For more examples of the practical ways in which law firms can address people, process, and technology variables to fuel firm growth, register here to watch a reply of this webinar. Or start with part one, which addressed the current state of the market and how it is changing as well as strategies for driving growth, increasing user engagement with technology, and integrating data to gain valuable insights for business development. Register now for part three, which takes place on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 and focuses on practical tips for aligning with client needs to drive growth.