Does My Law Firm Need A CRM?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right?
If you’ve followed this sage advice you’ve no doubt saved your law firm money. Nice work! If running a law practice was that simple you could stop reading right here.
Your toughest competitors aren’t in maintenance mode; they’re incorporating new technology every year to increase productivity and profits. A customer relationship management tool (CRM) is one such tool your office can’t afford to ignore.
Enter the CRM
Why a CRM? Glad you asked!
In its simplest terms, CRM software is a safe place to store contact information.
You might picture it as an electronic Rolodex of infinite size that lets you search by keyword or name versus the non-digital spin and flip approach. Paper cuts be gone! But CRM software does so much more than store your contact list.
A CRM application facilitates managing business development, marketing, vendor relations, accounting and other operational functions in one easily accessible, digital place.
A good CRM will also propel your SEO and online marketing campaigns forward. How? Simple.
The right software can aid keyword research and selection by tracking conversations and interactions with your ideal clientele as they describe their problems. Once logged in a database, your CRM can sort and retrieve keywords for you to share with your SEO and content management team.
You can also track client and prospect correspondence, increase engagement, and add the sort of personalization people associate with face-to-face interactions, all while expending less effort and resources.
Who doesn’t want to manage leads and clients more efficiently?
Assess Your Law Firm’s Needs
Finding the best CRM for your law firm starts with assessing your company’s needs. CRM software is like ice cream; there’s a flavor for everyone, but just because you love butter pecan doesn’t mean everyone else does. Similarly, one flavor of CRM isn’t perfect for every law firm.
What needs should you assess? Focus on the following six:
#1: Improvement and Growth
For a business to thrive it must continually improve and develop. In what ways does your firm need to grow?
Do you want to improve customer service, revenue, profit, productivity, or all of the above? The CRM you select should show clear value for achieving your improvement goals.
CRM software supplies intelligence, pinpointing the strengths and weaknesses in your firm’s established sales and customer management procedures.
The ultimate CRM software eases each element of your sales and customer relations process, including data collection, communications (staff, leads, clients), reporting, data mining and analysis. Determine areas of your operation that need improvement.
- Increase the number and quality of leads
- Consolidate and share contact details more efficiently
- Identify and repair leaks in your sales pipeline
What exactly is your sales pipeline? It’s how your firm handles leads. You may have heard it referred to as a sales funnel.
A CRM can encompass much more than the introduction of leads to your management process. It provides an integrated set of features to track, monitor and manage people at each stage of your pipeline.
#3: Managing Relationships
Don’t worry! We’re not talking personal relationships. We’re talking business relations, and this one is huge.
Digital access to your contacts and their networks is as valuable to your practice as your understanding of the law. Here is how CRM software can help.
- Assign and Monitor Leads: Nothing undermines sales faster than ignoring a lead. Ensure each new lead is assigned and monitored. Centralized record keeping and sharing is efficient.
- Ease of Access: A CRM creates an easily accessible portal, no matter your location. With a little organization, key staff and account reps will have access to the information they need.
- Accuracy: Ask your law firm’s administrator or marketing manager if your existing system is prone to any of these issues: inaccurate client data (names, titles, addresses), leads dropped, marketing materials sent to the wrong people. Each existing problem is eroding your marketing budget.
Tip: If you’d appreciate the ability to customize the client information you save, be sure your CRM provides contact customization.
#4: Mobile and Social
Mobile and social; if you’re not both, you’re no longer in sync with your office or your clients.
According to Smart Insights, the global digital snapshot for 2016 indicates that some 2.307 billion people are active social media users. The report includes a summary of the last ten years of US social media adoption. A decade ago, 7 percent of the US population used social networking sites. As of October 2015, the figure increased tenfold to 76 percent.
Your next client is already on social media. In fact, when hiring an attorney, 76 percent turn to the Internet in hopes of finding the right law firm. You need a CRM with mobile accessibility; how extensive that access needs to be is your call. CRM software can also monitor social media engagement and leads.
Social media is about interaction, and it’s a powerful technological tool for improving customer service. A carefully tailored social customer service strategy will increase engagement, and a social media CRM strategy gets the job done. Here’s how:
- Designate: Chances are you have an active profile on all of the major social media channels. One of those should be designated as your primary customer support hub. Choose the profile that receives the most user engagement; Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter will likely be your star.
- Integrate: The key to social engagement, which generates important things like trust and authority, is responsiveness. You must monitor the hub and respond to your audience promptly. Does the CRM software you are considering integrate with social media monitoring or a social media listening service? Can it improve your firm’s ability to respond, thus increasing efficiency and visibility?
- Analyze: Productivity, efficiency, and expectations. What do these mean to your firm? What do they mean to your clientele? Social media is rapidly becoming the portal to productive and efficient customer service. Clients are lodging complaints, delivering compliments, posting reviews, and posing questions via networking sites. A CRM can help record and analyze social data, allowing your firm to find new ways to better leverage technology to generate more leads and provide the kind of quality customer service that goes viral.
The standard CRM may not include a dedicated social media feature, but it should at least be able to integrate with what you are currently using to monitor and listen to your profiles.
#5: Size and Scalability
Like the porridge that was just right for Goldilocks, there’s a CRM that’s right for your law firm’s size.
Assess your average sales value, the number of sales, revenue generated, and the number of people employed. These stats will help pinpoint CRMs made to accommodate your volume.
Today, you are shopping for the software capable of meeting your immediate needs. What about your future needs? Consider:
- How many years has your law practice been in business?
- What is your firm’s historical growth rate?
- What are your growth projections (staff and clientele) in the next one to five years?
Adding user licenses as you expand, extending the software’s capabilities, integrating with current and future third-party applications—consider each requirement.
Will your new CRM integrate with your existing office software?
According to Capterra, chances are your law firm already uses one of these law-practice-management solutions.
- LexisNexis: Packed with useful features like a real-time calendar and project/matter management, LexisNexis is rated number one.
- Abacus: Hailed as a turn-key software solution and the second most popular by firms, AbacusLaw is a fully integrated practice management setup. It can work for any sized firm regardless of niche and has key features like accounting, automation, conflict checking, and email and document management.
- HoudiniESQ: When it comes to compatibility, HoudiniESQ is voted most likely to get along. Their software integrates with staples like Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Evernote, QuickBooks, and Google Apps, among others.
What systems do you use that you cannot function without? Make a list and check it twice. The CRM you purchase will increase productivity to the extent it plays nice with your indispensable systems, including your law-practice-management solution and your general office software.
Finding the Best CRM
Secure data is important in your business. The software you choose must meet your security and privacy requirements.
Finding the best CRM is like discovering your favorite ice cream—you have to try some flavors to find a favorite. Armed with your needs assessment, step into the ice cream parlor of CRMs:
- Read Reviews: Read lots of them. Preferably, those by law firms or companies that specialize in assisting firms like yours to increase ROI, nail inbound marketing, and evolve to become better, more efficient users of smart technology.
- Consider Recommendations: You’re going to find a ton of them! Don’t feel overwhelmed. Take note of the reported pros and cons.
- Test Drive: Most CRMs offer no-risk, free trials. Test drive everything from the base to the luxury models and see how the pros and cons from the recommendations you collected compare.
- Ask Other Firms: Sometimes the smartest way to find the best CRM is to ask. Talk to your colleagues. Find out which software solution has and hasn’t worked for them and why.
Integrating a CRM application with your current in-office setup and online marketing campaigns is your ticket to more efficient marketing, happier clients, and less time in the office.
Now go forth! Upgrade, evolve and thrive.
If you found this post helpful, please share it. We’d also love to hear what you glean from your research and testing. Why not leave a comment to help point fellow mid-sized law firms toward the best CRMs available?