Thursday, June 18, 2015

Data Quality Do’s and Don’ts – Part 4: The Missing Pieces

One of the most common CRM data quality complaints we hear as CRM Success Consultants is that key pieces of contact data in the system are missing. This significantly reduces the value of the system and hinders adoption. Let’s face it, it’s challenging enough to get people to actually use the system. But if they finally do decide to go looking for something and can't find it, it will be exponentially harder to get them to go there again.

What’s even worse is that, without complete contact information, it can be challenging or impossible to communicate with your contacts – which is the whole reason most organizations bought the CRM system in the first place. The goal is to share relevant information, communicate expertise and occasionally invite people to events. Without complete data, all the time and intellectual capital spent on producing content and events is wasted. And in a firm where professionals are often billing hundreds or over a thousand dollars an hour, that adds up quickly.

To solve the CRM puzzle, you have to ensure that your data is not only clean and correct – but also complete. Fortunately one of the benefits of CRM is to assist in this process. When users know the same contacts and they share this data into the CRM, when the duplicate records are merged, the final record will contain information from each of the users. Even if each person only has a piece of the puzzle, when the record is deduplicated, the pieces will come together into a much more complete picture. This is why data stewards are such an important piece of the CRM puzzle…

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Data Quality Do’s and Don’ts – Part 3: Adopt the Orphans

There is nothing sadder than a poor lonely little orphan – especially in your CRM system. When a record is left in the system and all the attorneys who once knew the contact are gone, the record is essentially abandoned. It’s left all alone in a CRM world where relationships are so very important.

So what is a CRM caretaker to do? Well, start by regularly keeping watch for the little abandoned orphans. It’s rare for them to be left prominently on your CRM doorstep. Instead, you have to go looking for them. Run regular searches for records with no relationships to individuals still at the firm. 

Once located, orphans require care and feeding. Essentially the firm should have a transition policy in place to assure that its orphans don't go uncared for. When attorneys leave the firm, their contacts should be regularly reviewed to determine whether they should remain in the system. Frequently, the answer is yes because they usually have a history with the firm and may be receiving communications.

The important orphaned records that remain should be ‘adopted’ by other attorneys in the firm who will agree to ‘foster’ relationships with them. With a little attention and nurturing, they may someday grow into happy new Clients...  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Data Quality Do’s and Don’ts – Part 2: “I See Dead People” (in my CRM system)

Many of us may remember that quote from the chilling movie The Sixth Sense. But seeing dead people in your CRM system can be almost as disturbing. Nothing is more likely to cause end users to tune out and turn off than finding deceased contacts in the system.

Even more disturbing, these contacts are often known by multiple people in your firm - but not everyone is always aware that the person has passed. So when the contact is taken off a mailing or event list, sometimes people will continue to add them back to the list. This can be incredibly problematic, as the last thing anyone wants is to send a card or invitation to a prominent former Client who died and then receive an uncomfortable phone call from their family or former company.

So you have to have a consistent process and procedure for dealing with deceased contacts. One good method is to have your marketing or data quality team involved in the process. When they find out that a contact has died, they can put ‘DECEASED’ in the title field and move all contact information to the notes field, along with the date the contact was marked deceased. This way, you ensure that the person should not receive future e-mails or calls. These updates will then flow back to other people who know the contact and everyone who looks at the contact record will then be aware of the person’s passing...

Friday, May 29, 2015

Data Quality Do’s and Don’ts – Part 1: Degrading Data

In today’s highly mobile markets, up to 30% of a firm’s CRM contact data can degrade each year. People get hired, fired, promoted and change jobs; they move and change addresses; they get married and divorced; some retire and a few die. This means that if you don’t pay attention to data quality, your end users will begin to distrust the data and, by association, the CRM system. It’s also important to appreciate that your CRM data represents relationships – and relationships represent revenue.

To encourage ongoing system adoption and utilization, data quality and maintenance have to be top priorities. Resources have to be dedicated – including time, money and people. Processes and procedures need to be put in place to maintain ongoing quality. Most importantly, training and communication are essential to ensure that end users don't create unnecessary duplicates or introduce more bad data into the system. Additionally, there are several areas to focus on to ensure ongoing data quality success…

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pipeline to Success - Part 7: The People

To ensure success, first the pipeline technology must be supported at the highest leadership levels in the law firm. Next, there have to be knowledgeable, well-trained people dedicated to inputting the data. Information has to be entered correctly, consistently and completely because bad data will not inspire attorney trust. Additionally, resources have to be dedicated to ongoing data quality to ensure the data remains current over time, since up to 30% of a firm’s contact data can become outdated each year. Finally, there has to be a focus on system adoption. Lawyers not only have to understand the value of the software for the firm, but they must also believe that there is something in it for them. Only then will firms be able to get the wide-spread utilization and value that will allow them to realize return on their pipeline investment.

One final note: While there is little doubt that pipeline software can be beneficial, it also important to remember that if the lawyers don’t continuously work on “filling up” the pipeline by regularly getting out of the office to go see clients and prospects, the software isn't really going to help. But that’s an article for another day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pipeline to Success - Part 6: The Problem

Over the years, we have all heard way too many stories of CRM systems failing to meet expectations. What we don’t typically hear is that the reason why these systems didn’t meet expectations was often that the expectations were unrealistic. Indeed, people have been complaining about CRM systems for as long as…well, as long as there have been CRM systems (and these complaints are not limited to law firms.)

The main problem with CRM technology is that it’s just technology. It’s not a magic bullet. Lawyers shouldn't expect that purchasing a “shiny” new piece of software is going to solve all of a law firm’s business development challenges. The software has to be implemented strategically, which means that firms have to focus not only on the technology itself, but also on the people that can make it or break it…..

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pipeline to Success - Part 5: The Products

Recently, some CRM developers have begun building pipeline tools to meet the changing needs of law firms. A few years ago, Microsoft began offering a version of its Dynamics CRM through industry vertical resellers who configured the software specifically for law firms. This product, CRM4Legal, has since been acquired by Aderant. Two other companies have also released new offerings built on the Dynamics platform: Business Development Premier from Thomson Reuters and ProfessionalCRM from Consulting4CRM.

More recently, LexisNexis InterAction, the industry leading CRM for large law firms, began beta testing their new Business Development Module that should be released this year and has easy data entry, automated alerts and advanced analytics and dashboards. Additionally, ContactEase fromCole Valley, the most popular CRM used by mid-sized firms, has also implemented a new Tracking Module for Opportunity and Pipeline Management. The advantage of these pipelines is that they and are tied to existing CRM systems that work completely within Outlook and are typically deployed firm-wide, allowing attorneys’ contacts to flow in with very little effort, time or training required. This allows a firm to better leverage relationships into opportunities and, ultimately, new matters.

Even Salesforce has finally officially entered the law firm pipeline picture through several partners including one vertical reseller whose product, OnePlace, is configured specifically for professional services. Their cloud-based system is being looked at by a few US law firms and has been adopted by one firm in Canada.

While it’s great that firms are finally focusing on business development tracking and new pipeline software for law firms is being developed, it’s also important to make sure that we don't forget the fundamentals of successful business development as we move forward so that we don't repeat past failures….