What is a CRM and do I really need it?
What is a CRM?
Ever since I started Lawmatics the question I get asked the most, just after ‘What do you do?’, is what exactly is a law firm CRM. It is a common acronym that almost everyone in the business and legal worlds have in their everyday vocabulary. However, if you ask 10 people for their definition of a CRM you will get 10 different answers. They will all have a theme of managing contacts but, as you dig deeper into the details, they will vastly differ, and it is these details that matter the most.
CRM specifically stands for Customer Relationship Manager and is a tool used to manage a company’s relationship with its customers. This is a very broad definition and could certainly encompass a lot of concepts and functionality. Perhaps the most widely known example of a CRM, and what comes to mind for most tech minded people when they hear CRM, is Salesforce. Salesforce certainly is a CRM, however, in many ways, the contact app in your mobile phone is also a CRM. It allows you to keep a list of contacts and maintain notes on those contacts. At its most basic level it too is a CRM.
A more robust definition
My definition of a CRM is a bit more robust. I agree that a CRM should be all about maintaining great custom relationships, I just think that extends far beyond keeping data on your contacts and notes on the interactions you have with them. To me, a CRM must allow you do anything and everything to enhance that relationship, to help foster its growth. This means actions like sending emails, communications, even marketing emails to your contacts and/or customers. It isn’t just collecting data, it is fostering the relationships for you.
A good legal CRM is as much about providing a great customer experience as it is about managing the relationship. A great customer experience starts from the very first interaction that a possible new client has with your firm and continues all the way through the intake process, active case stage, and continues after their case is over. A good law firm CRM will maintain and foster the relationship from the moment of first contact and continue through all stages of a client’s life cycle.
Do I need a CRM for my law firm?
So do you need a CRM? If you agree with my definition of a CRM then yes, you absolutely need to have a good CRM. You should always be mindful of the customer experience a client is receiving from start to finish. Too many firms focus just on one or two aspects. In my years of working with law firms I have seen many put so much care into the service they provide while a case is active, fewer who put the same focus on the client intake process, and virtually none who focus on the post case life cycle stage, perhaps the lowest hanging fruit.
A proper CRM can help you provide excellent customer service at EVERY stage of the client life cycle. What’s more is that a good CRM will also allow you to automate most of these customer relationship managing actions. So not only will you provide a better customer experience, but you will also save yourself time and effort along the way. Providing an excellent experience takes a lot of thought and time. Attempting to do it on your own using a multitude of solutions duct taped together is not only expensive, but also likely to cost you valuable time, resources and will sacrifice some of that experience.
Something a bit more unique for law firms is the intake process. Lawyers have a specific process for bringing on a client have more requirements than many businesses. It is critical that this intake process is seamless and designed to usher a potential client from first contact all the way through to hiring you. One of the most important features of a good law firm CRM is intake. Many CRMs out there do not address this concept of intake at all, let alone with enough focus to be viable for a law firm.
Tips for finding a good CRM for your law firm
Below are some of the important functions to look for in a CRM for your law firm.
1. Not just contact management
Make sure your CRM is not just a glorified rolodex. You are better off with a legal CRM that allows you to actually nurture and grow your relationships. The intake is an important part of the life cycle and you want a tool that will give you complete intake management and automation.
2. Email marketing tools
Email marketing is a critical part of any business' marketing plan. While there are many email marketing tools out there, it is important to have your email marketing fully built into your CRM. This is the only way to ensure data seamless flows into your personalized emails.
3. Marketing Source Tracking
As you start to marketing your law firm more and more, it is very important to know where your leads are coming from. If you do not know what source your leads are coming from then you are effectively flying blind. I don't recommend doing any marketing until you are set up to track where your leads are coming from. Typically, this comes in the form of website and phone number tracking to ensure that all leads are properly sourced. A good CRM and intake management platform will take care of this for you.
4. Custom Reporting
What you put into a legal CRM and intake management platform is only as good as what you can get out. It is important that your law firm's CRM, intake and marketing automation platform allows you to report on any aspect of the data that keep on the platform. Metrics like sales numbers, ROI, lead source attribution, and pipeline value are critical to your law firm. Make sure that your CRM is up to par.
Solutions like Lawmatics are designed to eliminate the guesswork and manual labor associated with providing an amazing customer experience. Look for not just something that refers to themselves as a CRM, but also as a marketing automation platform. This is the solution that you need for your firm if providing a great customer experience at every stage of the customer life cycle is a priority for you, and if you are in the business of being a lawyer, it absolutely must be.