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Innovation in End-User Adoption: Kirkland & Ellis

The dream

We here at LexisNexis®, like most of our clients, are always looking for ideas and inspiration on how to increase end-user adoption of customer relationship management (CRM), but unfortunately, there’s no magic formula. Every firm’s culture, configuration, and business processes are different, but what is the same across all firms is the desire to streamline, centralize, and improve business development efforts.  Over time, we’ve found some patterns. Some of the common denominators to successful user adoption are:

  1. Getting buy-in at all levels of the organization
  2. Identifying, training to, and supporting the “why” for users through workflow- and process- based training
  3. Maintaining consistent and ongoing support regarding the intangibles of the CRM

You can lead a horse to water …

It’s that last point that I’d like to look at more closely. You can argue the benefits of your CRM until you’re blue in the face, but the goal should be that your users WANT to contribute to a CRM and WANT to reap the benefits.

We know that initial and supplemental training is integral to end-user adoption. Training helps users know WHAT to do and WHY it benefits them. But what training can’t do is reveal true future ROI, instill real-life cooperation among practice groups, support healthy competition among lawyers, provide a leg-up to lateral hires, and create a platform for firm communication and collaboration. This is not necessarily information that we impart—these are feelings and realizations that users must come to on their own.

… But you can’t make it drink

As a CRM team, look past your formal training. Look at the next six months, the next year, and the next three years. Ask yourselves: how will we keep our users engaged? How can we supplement the system in a way that will nudge our users toward those intangible benefits: collaboration, communication, cooperation, and maybe even a little competition? The answer is the creation of—and support for—strategic functionality, configuration, structure, and design that gives them things they didn’t even know they wanted. Every day you want your system to passively present your users with a reason to use the system. You want to create a structure that nurtures their needs and satisfies their wants in the most automated and engaging way possible.

Let’s work on making it WANT to drink

I’d like to introduce you to a firm that’s mastering end-user adoption: Kirkland & Ellis. And through some Q&A they’d like to give you a peek into how they’ve used innovative thinking, creative automation, and strategic communication to maintain a successful CRM program. They’ve created a culture of consistent buy-in for their CRM that is yielding positive business development results and collaboration within the firm.

“Accessibility is critical for attorney adoption.”

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LN: Why is the success of CRM important for Kirkland & Ellis?

KE: Kirkland is a large, busy firm with more than 2,000 attorneys. It’s important to have tools in place to prevent connections and opportunities from slipping through the cracks. Kirkland360*CRM is an effective tool that attorneys firm-wide use to communicate with each another about who they know and what they are doing. It also helps track their communications with existing and prospective clients. The CRM is a part of everyday life at Kirkland that helps support collaboration—a core Kirkland value— among our attorneys.

LN: How has your innovation with CRM contributed to end user adoption?

KE: We always put our end users’ needs first. We gather extensive requirements for all CRM projects and then strategically lay out the technical specs to build the best solution. It’s important that everything our attorneys need is either delivered to them through automation, or is just one click away. Accessibility is critical for attorney adoption. We have worked with LexisNexis to creatively deliver CRM data to attorneys so they don’t have to dig for it.

“Our CRM newsletters allow us to bring a sense of community to our secretary users.”

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LN: You created a secretary newsletter.  Why did you think a newsletter would be helpful in end-user adoption?

KE: Our secretary users are critical for the success of Kirkland’s CRM program. We wanted to ensure they understood their importance in this new and exciting program and that CRM wasn’t just another piece of software they were required to learn. They play a key part in client service and relationship management for the firm. Our CRM newsletters help us encourage a sense of community among secretary users. It’s also a great outlet to deliver important initiatives and progress reports around the program.

LN: What do you include in the CRM newsletter?

KE: Each CRM newsletter has a theme. We may include guides or videos that provide a walkthrough of the theme. We also have a section where we highlight a “CRM Star of the Month.” The CRM Star of the Month honors a secretary who has demonstrated significant skill with—and commitment to—the CRM.

We recently launched a webinar series and provided links to recordings for reference in our CRM newsletter. The webinars are also available on our internal CRM support intranet page.

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LN: How do you disseminate the newsletter?

KE: Monthly via our e-marketing platform. We also have ad hoc communications for new features, important developments, new reports, and end-of-year reviews.

LN: How are the click view rates on that newsletter?

KE: The rates are very high! Our CRM newsletter has a 90 percent average view rate.

LN: Why do you think your end users are reading it?

KE: We highlight specific users and include topics we know are relevant. We also highlight how the CRM is adding value to an individual secretary’s skillset. The role of the legal secretary is changing. It was important for us to highlight how the CRM is an important relationship system that secretaries can access, contribute to, and use. It’s important they know that they are a major reason why Kirkland*360 has been successful.

LN: What challenges did you have putting this newsletter together?

KE: Our biggest challenge is making sure each newsletter is better than the previous one. Each communication has to remain relevant and compelling to our end users. Keeping the communications exciting and educational has been a challenge.

“Giving concrete examples of the successes of the program is one of the things we have found most appealing to our end users.”

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LN: When do you communicate with your attorneys?

KE: The two regular communications to attorneys come at the beginning of the year with a look ahead at CRM, and at the end of the year, with a recap of important achievements involving CRM. We also send communications when new reports or features are launched.

LN: How do you communicate with your attorneys?

KE: Via targeted, branded CRM mailings delivered through our e-mail marketing platform. We want to make sure every communication is easily recognized and stands out as a CRM communication.

LN: How are the view rates on these communications?

KE: These rates are also high! We have an 80 percent view rate on partner communications.

LN: Why do you think attorneys are looking at these communications?

KE: The content is geared to show progress and highlight important benefits and advantages for attorneys who use CRM. We focus on communicating the successes of the system, which will in turn encourage its use. Our communications must show how the CRM helps facilitate business development for the firm. We also highlight our biggest users and demonstrate how they are using the system. Concrete examples of success with CRM are most appealing to our end users. We must effectively communicate how the CRM is working and why our users should continue engaging with the system.

LN: What challenges did you have with these communications?

KE: Gathering stories can be challenging. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly when a connection is made from the CRM, or how CRM data improved a pitch, client meeting, or other interaction with a client or prospect. We proactively ask attorneys to share CRM successes, but it’s not always easy to gather. Attorneys are very busy people!

“Activities are a way to make sure our partners are collaborating and avoiding uncoordinated approaches.”

LN: You created a report that’s distributed automatically to users every day. How did the idea for the Daily Activity Report come about?

KE: At the request of a senior M&A partner about five years ago, we developed a report on a SharePoint site that captured partners’ business development meetings. After we implemented our CRM, we transferred all of this information into the CRM as activities. We also wanted to make sure the attorneys who used the SharePoint site still had an easy way to view who their partners were meeting. This led to the development of the Daily Activity Report that goes firm-wide to partners every morning. The Daily Activity Report contains all the business development meeting activities that partners created the day before.

LN: What is its purpose?

KE: The purpose of the Daily Activity Report is to keep our attorneys, practices, and offices connected. Activities are a way to promote collaboration and help avoid uncoordinated approaches. The report also uncovers opportunities to share information about common connections.

LN: What challenges did you have getting the Daily Activity Report together?

KE: Our main challenge was design. We wanted to make sure the report was detailed but still very easy for our end users to read and understand.

LN: You also allow users to see what’s coming out in the next day’s Daily Activity Report. Tell me about the benefit of the Daily Activity Report preview.

KE: The report preview allows the CRM team to review activities to make sure they are entered correctly. It also helps us ensure that the contacts linked to activities are cleaned and reviewed. For our end users, the preview allows them to check their work and make sure the correct meetings were added to the CRM. Quality and accuracy increase as a result.

“CRM is “an important part of an attorney’s day.”

LN: How have the communications changed end-user behavior in the CRM?

KE: Our CRM communications have helped keep CRM top of mind. Our communications keep our end users in the loop on what is going on with the CRM.

LN: How has the Daily Activity Report changed end-user behavior in the CRM?

KE: The Daily Activity Report has made the CRM an important part of an attorney’s day. Adding activities has become a regular, expected action for our attorneys. They also like to see their name and business development initiatives on the report!

LN: What do you think it was about your innovation that motivated users to enter their activities?

KE: Visibility. Sending the Daily Activity Report has proven successful in making vital firm connections.

LN: Tell me about the new opportunities and new business you’ve seen because of the collaboration and communication through the Daily Activity Report.  

KE: The Daily Activity Report has further connected attorneys across the firm. We were surprised, however, to see how our new attorneys make use of the report. Lateral attorneys use the report as a way to make sure they are transparent about the relationships and business development activities they bring to the firm. It notifies other attorneys of who they are meeting with, which allows other attorneys to connect with them and share information about any existing relationships. Simply put, it’s a way for our new attorneys to stay coordinated in their many business development efforts.

LN: What are your future plans with innovation around your CRM?

KE: The three R’s of 2018: Reports, reminders, and referrals. We will keep developing easy-to-access reports, finding ways to tie reminders into activities for follow-up, and building a referral database that will allow us to track who we are referring business to and who is referring business to us.

Kirkland & Ellis has made CRM an integral and daily part of their users’ day. The innovation in their CRM newsletters emphasize the good work that secretaries do and draws attention to that effort and the importance of that work. The Annual Activity Report with their attorneys reveal how the CRM is positively driving firm business with testimonials, attorney contribution information, and activity statistics. And the automated Daily Activity Report keeps users on the same page regarding business development initiatives occurring every day. All of these communications and reports have made CRM “an integral piece of the collaborative culture at Kirkland.”

This is a team that understands that strategic functionality, configuration, structure, and design creates deliverables that make their users want to use CRM. They realize that investing the time and effort in passively providing this information to their users supports those intangibles that make their users want to use the CRM. These innovations are doing double duty: reinforcing the value users bring to the tool, and revealing the value that the tool brings to the users. At Kirkland & Ellis, CRM users are connected, collaborative, and engaged and that means good business.

Elena Cutrielena-cutri
An educator by trade, Elena is a lifelong learner (aka school nerd!) at heart. She is fascinated by how people leverage learning to live intelligent and informed lives. As Director of Education Services for LexisNexis, she enjoys partnering with clients to guide their change management efforts through learning. Elena holds both a Master of Arts degree in Corporate Communications and a Master in Business Administration degree in Management. She is also an Adjunct Faculty member teaching Public Speaking 101 at a Chicagoland college. When not working, she spends time with her family, leads a Girl Scout troop and teaches classes for adults with special needs.

maggie-hepburnMaggie Hepburn
Maggie has been training and delighting her clients for over 15 years. She is exceptional at ensuring her clients are equipped to handle their daily responsibilities with InterAction. Maggie holds a Master of Arts degree in Linguistics. She thoroughly enjoys anything about the mysteries of language, speech, and pronunciation. She will find any excuse to build a spreadsheet and her favorite movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life.”


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About Maggie Hepburn

Maggie Hepburn
Maggie has been training and delighting her clients for over 15 years. She is exceptional at ensuring her clients are equipped to handle their daily responsibilities with InterAction. Maggie holds a Master of Arts degree in Linguistics. She thoroughly enjoys anything about the mysteries of language, speech, and pronunciation. She will find any excuse to build a spreadsheet and her favorite movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life.”