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I’ve been attending events and talking about CRM success for many years and have been pleased to have worked with many firms who have achieved it.    The first ever Stanton Allen User Group in the UK took place at Bird & Bird this week and it was great to see so many of our clients.

In advance of the event we ran a small survey asking people what they considered to be the keys to success and what the likely trends might be in the future.

CRM: Factors for success

When it came to the factors that firms saw as important for success the key element was obtaining buy-in from senior leadership (just under 30% mentioned this in the top 3).  Data Quality, providing business development and not just marketing functionality and moving to a “firm contacts” policy i.e. opt-out not opt-in when it comes to sharing contacts, were all pretty evenly mentioned in second place.

This is not entirely surprising, when we work with firms we certainly recommend taking a firm contacts approach and making sure that the system is designed to support the firm’s strategic goals as opposed to CRM being “just another thing I have to do”.  This tends to drive engagement with the system much more if you explain to a user that the system is merely the tool to help them achieve the firm’s goals.  I think it helps that more and more firms are starting to measure their users now and good CRM behaviours are increasingly forming part of users’ evaluation and in some cases remuneration.

CRM: Areas for improvement

When we asked firms where they thought they needed to improve there was a wider spread of responses but senior leadership buy-in came out on top again.  Clearly firms don’t think that they have managed to elevate the use of CRM to the board’s agenda.  No-one seemed to think that mobile access or marketing automation was either particularly an area of success or something that they were too concerned about improving.  However the development of reports and focusing more on business development were definitely things that a number of firms mentioned.

We have increasingly found this over the last 1-2 years.  There is a much greater emphasis on reporting.  For many years the focus had been much more about how do you get data in to the CRM system.  One of the attendees at our event, who is in the process of rolling out OnePlace for CRM, said that part of the reason their roll-out was being so successful is that their focus was always to try and find at least one new thing that the partner didn’t know during their training and the result is that everyone has been enthusiastic about then spending time to uncover new relationships or new opportunities.

CRM: Future Trends

When we discussed what the future trends were likely to be, everyone was very clear that more automation and workflow and being able to access CRM on the move was critical.   Even the most dedicated CRM user can often be too busy, so finding ways to use the deadtime is critical.  We have just implemented a Business Card Scanner with our Salesforce, not only does it allow you to scan a card but is also allows you to attach a voice memo to the card which is translated into text by the time the card is created as a contact in the system.  Finding ways to make users’ lives easier and to do the basic things can often be the key to success.

CRM: Future Plans

Finally we asked people about their own future plans for CRM.  Although InterAction is still the market leader in terms of numbers of clients, not just within our own client base but in law firms generally, OnePlace and MS Dynamics CRM are starting to make headway.  14 of the 40 firms who responded used one of those 2 systems.  Interestingly of the 22 using InterAction half of them said that they were considering a switch in the next 1-2 years.  For me I don’t think it matters what your CRM system is.  Making sure that the data is of good quality and that you invest time in training your users on how the system will benefit them, are far more likely to help you to achieve success than just changing technology.

GDPR

One of the things that was mentioned by many people was GDPR and the fact that the change in regulations around data privacy were likely to have a huge impact on the way in which we market.   In my view that’s right, we are increasingly going to have to use other channels such as Social media and thought leadership and draw people in to engage with us rather than pushing content to them. I am including links here to our GDPR checklist blogs so you can see the scope of the work ahead for the next year.

As with all things in life as many things change there are as many that stay the same.  The idea that we won’t be able to send out email communications because of GDPR was something that concerned a lot of people.  I’m old enough to remember when we all thought the world would come to an end when we stopped sending direct mail hard copy!  The fact is we’re just going through another stage in the evolution of how we do marketing.  But basically the key to success is to listen to what your clients are telling you, if someone wants to engage with you they will, and if they don’t, they won’t.