Having been on the other side of the fence – i.e. in a law firm – I have personal experience of the challenges that CRM managers and business development leaders face in getting people to use the organisation's CRM system. The reality of course is that the lack of adoption invariably is because teams can't see the value in using the solution and they don't know what is expected of them.
Here are my top three tips – tried and tested – on how firms can get their CRM system adoption numbers up:
- CRM isn't a 'project', it's an investment
Considering CRM implementation as a technology project is the most fundamental mistake that law firms make. It is an investment that the firm is making to enable the organisation to achieve its goals. Therefore, it's imperative that the CRM implementation is well resourced not just during the deployment phase, but as a matter of routine. So, unlike typically where the CRM team comprises marketing and business development professionals, it should comprise members from across the organisation – including partners, lawyers and IT.
In fact, recruiting members in different roles from across the IT organisation – i.e. support, development, infrastructure – can be very beneficial to ensuring smooth functioning and long-term adoption of CRM. In my previous role, a member of the IT development team would accompany me to the InterAction events and forums. Understanding the solution and its future roadmap along with participating in discussions at the events, meant that the developer was 'invested' in the solution. A similar approach should be adopted with partners who are aligned with business development in the firm too.
- What will success look like?
Perhaps unrealistically, when a CRM solution is deployed, firms have a huge expectation that people will love the solution and use it with vigour. Unsurprisingly, that is seldom the case. So, define at the outset, what success will look like and how it will be measured.
Some metrics that can be used are things like increasing number of contacts in the system, enhancing lawyer participation in business development activity, achieving organic growth, improving strength of relationships and engagement levels with key clients and such.
One metric that particularly works well is assigning a timeframe from when all key account reports will be generated from the CRM system. If a lawyer's activity is not recorded, it doesn't get taken into account for practice group/Board reports. It encourages lawyers to log their activity in the system, which in turn significantly enhances the intelligence offered by the solution and the cycle becomes self-perpetuating – tangibly increasing the value of the CRM solution for the firm.
- What's in it for you?
Last but not least, make sure that the users understand how CRM adoption will help them in their roles. To this end, tailor information on the benefits of using the system for every single user group – partners, lawyers, personal assistants, marketing, business development, IT and administrators. Take a consumer and marketing-led, targeted approach to addressing the different pain points and aspirations of each of these audiences.
It's a good idea for the training team to include members from marketing, business development and IT. It facilitates an all-round understanding for all parties of the unique problems of the various groups and how they can be resolved.
At the end of the day, a CRM solution is a piece of software. Optimise usage and it will do its job and deliver against the promise of fuelling business growth. Let it limp along without clear direction and it will remain a mere 'piece of kit', the investment in which could potentially have been used elsewhere. This said, the business value of CRM is well proven, and in an environment that has never been more competitive than it is today, diligently taking measures to maximise its adoption will facilitate stronger client relationships and business growth.