The U.K. law firm needed vital information to be visual and accessible to all.
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We knew there were things we could do better with regard to managing the relationships between each client and the various members of the client-service team. We needed vital information to be visual and accessible to all. That's critical in a law firm. When did you first implement CRM?
Before this project CRM was inconsistent across the firm--some regions were more effective but there was no [uniform] program in place. Three years ago we realized that the market had grown more sophisticated, and that we needed to look after our very best clients. So the firm took the very best bits from the various programs, and developed a CRM program that is underpinned now by Interface Software's InterAction. What were your key criteria for selecting a CRM vendor?
We had to be able to configure it to meet our needs. We could see ways to make [InterAction] work for us. As an example, we spend hundreds of thousands on our "hospitality budget"--if you're not tracking where that money's going, you're losing vital marketing and business-development information. We needed a system that could track that. How did you gain executive and user buy-in?
One thing about a law firm: The business is owned by the partners, so any major expenditure focuses their attention quite quickly. Fortunately, they've been committed to this vision since day one.
We spent a long time talking to people, asking, "What do you want from the system? What's the most important thing you need?" What were the key challenges or obstacles, and how did you overcome them?
Integration of our offices in the U.K. and internationally meant we had around 22 databases to merge into one, with more than 100,000 contacts all in different formats. We had to get the data out of the lawyers' heads, hands, desks, and Excel spreadsheets. It's amazing how much data we've flushed out. We thought we'd done quite well with the 22 databases, but we've discovered another 100,000 contacts since we went live.
A big issue is training--we've got lots of people to be trained, and we don't want to lose momentum. Training is a massive undertaking. We didn't want to open the database to 4,500 people at once and have none of them know how to use it. So we started with a limited system, just names and addresses. People are migrating from the simple system to the more complex one.
What were the main results and rewards of CRM?
A lawyer used to read an article about an up-and-coming company, run up to marketing and say, "Tell me all we know about them." Now they can see what we call prospects, which traditionally had always been held in marketing or business development. All the firm's prospects are in one folder, and anyone throughout our network of offices can see who's in there.
One thing CRM has done is move people away from thinking "[They're] my clients" to thinking "They're Eversheds' clients"--a major evolutionary step for the firm. What are your next steps?
We'll have 80 percent of lawyers on InterAction by end of 2004. If I can get 85 percent of staff using 85 percent of the system, I'll be one very, very happy person.
The question is, how do we use the system to grow the business? One way is to use InterAction to ensure we have the information at our fingertips to provide the very best client service, and to deliver new revenue.
Lessons Learned Unify and simplify. Get your data into one place then understand which data makes a difference and which doesn't. Cleanse preemptively. Identify your key client data set before you flip the switch--do the data audit from day one. Deputize wisely. A strong second-in-command--the person "who makes all your glossy words actually happen"--is critical. Find superusers. Why fight uphill all the time? Take the most enthusiastic people first. Survey repeatedly. What the customer says during a lunch may not be the full story. Structured, follow-up interviews provoke feedback that can really improve the system. Deliver regularly. Don't try to produce one big deliverable. "Start with one part, then the next bit, and the next bit. Give them more sweets after they've learned to use each one."
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