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What does Law Firm CRM Really Mean?

What does Law Firm CRM Really Mean

A survey report focused on the State of Law Firm CRM published late in 2013 found “better client relations” among the primary benefits of CRM projects.  It’s worth noting the “improved ability to cross-sell” was a close second.

As desinationCRM.com, the web affiliate of CRM Magazine, later reported in an article titled, Law Firms Make the Case for CRM:

Fifty percent of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that their practices were seeing measurable returns from their CRM initiatives. More than half of the firms cited “better client relationships” as the primary benefit of their CRM projects. Another 48 percent cited an “improved ability to cross-sell.” Other benefits cited were increased team collaboration, improved efficiency in serving clients, greater staff satisfaction, increased revenue and profitability, and cost savings.

There are clearly some amazing business development statistics that stem from timeless CRM lessons, which some experts refer to as a referral engine, or a business strategy. Yet despite the wide body of literature and analysis on the topic of CRM, the conversation inevitably returns to one fundamental question:  What does CRM mean?

10 High-level Views Explaining CRM

It might go without saying, as a technology vendor that develops CRM technology designed for law firms, and other professional services, we believe a tool is an important part of an overall philosophy.  This is especially true given many law firms follow a rainmaker model.  However, it’s also valuable to take a step back and listen to what the market has to say.

We’ve been following a web community – the CRM Experts LinkedIn Group – for some time and this question – what does CRM really mean? – was posted four months ago that continues to earn weekly, if not daily activity.  Here are some of the answers we found valuable and worth sharing here:

1. CRM means shared beliefs and values.

“For me Customer Relationship Management is your organizations shared beliefs and values with regards to how you handle all aspects of your interactions with your customers and the business processes and tools that your employee to enable your company to achieve beliefs and values in an efficient manner.” – David Vickers

2. CRM begins with business needs.

“CRM is a toolset that you modify and make changes to based on your business needs…CRM can be expanded to tracking sales, doing email marketing, tracking customer service issues, project management and much more. Most good CRM’s also can be integrated with other systems like accounting or web analytics. CRM is different for every business. It begins and ends based on the needs of the business.” – Tom Gibson

3.  CRM is customer valuation.

“CRM is a strategy, which as Porter taught us is “a choice”. CRM is customer-based, customer-focused, and customer-centric. It is based upon targeting, segmentation, and grading (i.e., customer valuation) (this is especially true in a B2B environment, which should be the easier of the 2 business models in which to operate successfully with a strategy of customer relationship management).” – Nick Poulos

4. CRM is a philosophy.

“To me CRM, has nothing to do with the tools or processes you acquire or build to manage your business. Although it’s important to have the right system and tools to house the data that will drive your business, it’s really fundamentally built on the philosophy that your business is here to serve your customers…It’s really about understanding what your customers want, how they interact with your business, and if your current strategy aligns with that need.” – Cindy Brazina

5.  CRM is a business strategy.

“Here is the definition of CRM that I believe is very useful: ‘CRM is a core business strategy that integrates internal processes and external networks to create and deliver value to targets customers at a sustainable profit. It is grounded on high quality customer data and enabled by information technology.’” – Ross Smith

6.  CRM is about the customer, sale and service.

“In simple language, CRM is all about [the] customer, sale and service and with the help of that we can earn more and more business.” – Sheetal Vaghela

7.  CRM balances customer and business benefits.

CRM is a customer-centric business strategy (rather than a technology strategy) which involves operational improvements with a focus on the customer (typically customer experience, sales, marketing & service) which can also result in better internal processes and greater efficiency, while boosting sales. The important aspect of CRM is to balance the benefits for the organization with the customer benefits. – Ravi Kiran

8. CRM creates a great customer experience.

“CRM means Customer Relationship Management, and as such it is a technique and a set of tools which can create a great customer experience.” – Sally Dickson

9. CRM helps businesses grow.

“CRM is a tool when it is in the form of software. However, CRM should be an important philosophy for any business. The customer is what makes your business successful and maintaining a great relationship with them will only help your business grow. However, you need a specific plan in place to nurture that relationship, which is where CRM systems come in.” – Heather Waugh

10. CRM is about understanding what customers want.

“At a base level it is a way of processing and storing large volumes of data in order to generate data that is manageable and actionable, but what makes CRM powerful is the opportunities it creates for its users. If businesses use the platform to glean information about what customers want and expect in terms of marketing interactions, product development, customer service, communications and commercial pricing then these businesses will be in a position to create truly customer centric and effective business models.” – Katie Hale

* * *

The complete discussion is well worth a read, as are many of the other conversations on this group, which is approaching 70,000 members.  What would you add?

Photo credit:  Tom Fishburne, MarketoonistInside the Mind of the Consumer

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
Law Firm Business Development:  Relationships Trump Everything

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.


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