Many lawyers consider client relationship management a tedious and time-consuming activity that distracts them from their core task of delivering top quality legal advice to clients. Many also honestly acknowledge that 'relationship building' is not their forte. The reality though is that they could not be more wrong. They already have the skills, they just need to harness them for relationship management and with the aid of technology, it can become as routine as matter management.
Lawyers are very conscious of the demands of their clients, and to ensure they deliver sound and timely advice on matters, they always keep track of client calls, emails and documents. The same practice can be applied to recording relationship and business development-related activity in the firm's CRM system. Similarly, lawyers pay great attention to correctly storing matter files in their firm's document management system or shared/network drives. The same discipline can be applied to storing key client information in the CRM system.
In doing so – this simple act of regularly inputting client-related information in the CRM system can cumulatively deliver unprecedented relationship intelligence to the individual lawyers and their firms.
Furthermore, just like lawyers note even what might seem like insignificant matter-related information, applying the same methodology to relationships is essential. It requires awakening their emotional intelligence to observe and note things about clients such as what they like, how they approach risks, are they introverts or extroverts, what personal life challenges they face, and so on. Combining this with their business profile such as what challenges them in their jobs, what risks are they trying to pre-empt, how new organisational changes are going to affect their role, etc. is essential due diligence, which can be leveraged for organic growth or new business activity. Needless to say, lawyers must adhere to the Data Protection guidelines when recording sensitive information.
Such an approach helps build – both a colourful picture of clients as individuals and a bigger picture of their organisations. This kind of knowledge then offers insight and intelligence via technology that isn't otherwise identifiable on the surface.
For instance, say a new business opportunity comes, which requires pitching to a General Counsel, whose personality is reserved and the legal department takes pride in its collaborative approach to business. Sending in a partner with a larger than life personality and a quick decision-making approach to business could potentially be a turn-off for the client, resulting in the matter being awarded to another panel firm for execution.
Just like lawyers undertake a matter risk profile, conducting a relationship risk profile is good due diligence. CRM systems support firms in applying this kind of rigour to relationships. In doing so, relationship building and management becomes as standard as good matter management.