CRM Data Management Best Practices Whitepaper

Data ManagementMaximizing Business Development and ROI

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 excellent, how would you rate the data in your client relationship management (CRM) system? It will never be perfect, but if it’s not close to 10, you’re not realizing the full potential of CRM. Misspelled names, incorrect addresses, incomplete information and duplicate records can limit the effectiveness of even the most powerful software. In short, the quality of your data is a key determinant of the success of your system.

Building and maintaining a clean and complete database can be a real challenge for a number of reasons, including:

  • Inconsistencies may exist between different databases utilized for different purposes (e.g. billing and mailing)
  • Professionals can be reluctant to share information about key contacts
  • Having no clear goals, no data management plan, and little or no training
  • Responsibility for maintaining the data is unclear
  • Data management is not a priority and falls to the bottom of to-do lists

Having clean, accurate, complete and up-to-date data is essential to CRM success.To find out what firms are doing to meet the data management challenge, ContactEase CRM convened a panel of professionals with extensive CRM experience and created a whitepaper to help you achieve success.  For the full whitepaper visit our website – http://colevalley.com/Resources.aspx

For more on data management and other aspects of CRM, please call ContactEase at 1-800-447-1212 ext 2 or visit colevalley.com.

ROI: How CRM Can Boost Revenue, Case Study by Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC – Part 2, Planning

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For our last post, we shared  ROI:  How CRM Can Boost Revenue, a Case Study by Foster Swift PC, Part 1, Need.  The five-part series will continue to focus on:  1) Need, 2) Planning, 3) Launch, 4) Benefits and 5) More Benefits.

Planning

Because Kim has a market research background, she started by asking the stakeholders what had gone wrong with the previous attempts to implement CRM and what they wanted the new system to do. In addition to surveying the attorneys, she held focus groups with support staff and brought in Chris Fritsch, who is also an attorney, to talk with key leadership about their expectations and the realities of CRM.

Doing all that helped to identify fears, pain points and needs, such as the ability to keep private any personal information put into the system (a separate notes field allows that), as well as to see who made changes to a record (an audit trail makes this possible). It also showed that about 60% of the attorneys were using Outlook to manage their contacts, which meant they were likely to use a system like ContactEase that integrates with Outlook.

Plus, involving the attorneys and support staff in the planning process helped them see how CRM could make things better, and that helped get their buy-in. With the help of several attorneys who championed the cause, Kim convinced the firm’s leaders to go with ContactEase CRM.

What’s up next  – Part 3 is the Launch…ROI:  How CRM Can Boost Revenue, a Case Study by Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC. For the full whitepaper visit our website – http://colevalley.com/Resources.aspx

To be continued….

CRM – Not in Your Budget for 2016? It could be and here’s how…

Making everything possibleRecently, a firm didn’t have CRM in their 2016 budget and they were able to buy this year taking advantage of a leasing option.  ContactEase has a leasing partner that can help make your investment more affordable.  With today’s low-interest rates, a lease program will allow you to preserve your cash and spread project costs over a 3-year period for a low fixed rate monthly payment. Additionally, they offer the following value added services for ContactEase clients:

  • 90 Day Deferral – you have the option to defer the start of your rental payments for up to 90 days from the project start date.
  • Quarterly or Monthly Payments – you have the option to choose monthly or quarterly rental payments.
  • Progress Payments – First American can make any deposits or milestone payments to Cole Valley on your behalf prior to project completion.

No fees – your program has no fees of any kind.

Please contact Brenda Sleeper at bsleeper@colevalley.com or 800-447-1712 ext. 805 for more information.

ContactEase CRM helps firms acquire and retain clients by ensuring that the right people get the right communication at the right time. Greater than 90% adoption results from seamless Outlook integration, easy-to-use tools, and a highly experienced support team. ContactEase is used by over 250 law and accounting firms, with 16,000+ users worldwide.

ROI: How CRM Can Boost Revenue, Case Study by Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC

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Part 1 of our five-part series on ROI:  How CRM Can Boost Revenue, a Case Study by Foster Swift PC

 
Wouldn’t you like to see numbers like these at your firm?

  • $53,463 in annual savings on newsletter costs
  • 200% increase in the number of newsletters
    sent out annually
  • 700% reduction in time spent on data entry
  • $15,600 in annual savings on list management costs
  • $121,973 in fees from three new Ag Law clients
  • 149% ROI on your CRM investment

Those are just some of the benefits that Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC, a 95-attorney law firm based in Lansing, Michigan, has realized from implementing ContactEase CRM — and that your firm can enjoy, too. Others include a more accurate and easier-to-update database of 42,000 records, the ability to readily track and manage business development activities by type, and the ability to manage client compliance with employee benefits laws and maintain related forms and correspondence.

According to Kimberly P. Hafley, Director of Marketing & Recruitment for Foster Swift, here’s why the firm chose ContactEase and what it did to realize those benefits and facilitate business development.

Need

When Kim joined Foster Swift in 2009, the firm had seven databases, including 7,000 records that were only on old-fashioned paper Rolodex cards. Entering data and maintaining records was a nightmare. As a result, many people were getting multiple copies of mailings, or mailings were returned as undeliverable. The costs were huge. For example, for one estate planning mailing that required an oversized envelope, the unit cost was $2.50. Of the 4,000 mailed, 500 came back — a waste of $1,250.

The firm had tried but failed twice to implement CRM. One reason was that CRM was totally Marketing’s responsibility, but Marketing did not have access to all information, and there was no system for getting database changes to Marketing. So if Marketing was not given a new name or address, the database was not updated. Another reason was that the CRM system was proprietary, so it didn’t interface with anything else and was the equivalent of adding yet another database. “The partners thought that all you had to do was buy a CRM program, plug it in, press a few keys and everything would magically work,” says Kim. “Of course, it didn’t.”

The catalyst for trying CRM a third time was a mailing that went to the home of an important client who had given strict instructions that nothing was to be sent to his residence.  This event resulted in a prominent senior shareholder sharing his displeasure with both Kim and the firm’s Executive Committee, resulting in approval to research CRM options.  So Kim asked a consultant that had helped her successfully update Foster Swift’s website to recommend a solution.

View More: http://benjamindavidphotography.pass.us/foster-headshots
“I was very gung-ho and thought we would be able to go all-out with CRM right from the start. But Jennifer and Chris noted that our firm had already had two failures and suggested that we slow down and take baby steps.  — Kim Hafley, Director of Marketing, Foster Swift

Kim was referred to Chris Fritsch, who consults with law firms on CRM.  Chris suggested that they look at three CRM providers, including ContactEase CRM from Cole Valley Software. Kim talked about ContactEase with several firms that use it, including Ulmer & Berne in Columbus, Ohio, Sherin & Lodgen LLP in Boston, and UHY LLP in Chicago. She was impressed by what she heard, as well as by the helpfulness of Cole Valley CEO Jeff Reade and Chief Brand Officer Jennifer Whittier in identifying what she needed to do to successfully implement CRM.

“I was very gung-ho and thought we would be able to go all-out with CRM right from the start,” Kim says. “But Jennifer and Chris noted that our firm had already had two failures and suggested that we slow down and take baby steps. We had to get clear about what we needed and get buy-in from the attorneys before we launched a new system.”

What’s up next week  – Part 2 is Planning…ROI:  How CRM Can Boost Revenue, a Case Study by Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC. For the full whitepaper visit our website – http://colevalley.com/Resources.aspx

 

CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 5, Impact and ROI

For our last post, we shared CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 4, Data Management. This is the last of our CRM five-part series:  1) Getting Buy-In, 2) Planning and Budgeting, 3) Implementation, 4) Data Management, and 5) Impact and ROI.

This is Part 5 – Impact and ROI

Full implementation of a CRM system can take considerable time and effort. It’s important to track and measure impacts along the way, so you can determine ROI, demonstrate benefits, and celebrate success. This will increase buy-in and help you maximize the effectiveness of your system.

The following is what our peers had to say about the differences CRM made in their firms.

Kim Hafley comments:

We’ve seen three main impacts from CRM. First and foremost was the amount saved in printing and postage by cleaning up the data for all the mailing lists. That in itself was in excess of six figures.

The second was that, instead of entering data three times and having it take 24 man hours a month, it’s down to about 4 man hours. Over a year, that’s a huge chunk of somebody’s job, so we’ve freed up that time.

The third has to do with Christmas. We send out cards to a large list and run a huge event — a dress rehearsal with the Grand Rapids Ballet. By using CRM, we were able to reduce the time all this  from 300 man hours to 50.  We now have a great system that uses the Mailing List Manager, and the attorneys update their lists. We are able to email out invitations, and participants are able to sign up. We have their tickets waiting with their attorneys when they arrive so they get a personal greeting from their attorneys. It’s made the event a huge success.

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CRM has also enabled us to make sure our messages get out to the right people, as well as to print out reports that help our attorneys with cross-selling opportunities. They love that!
— Barbara Joseph

 

Barbara Joseph comments: 

We’ve received the most positive feedback and praise for how ContactEase has enabled us to be more proactive. For example, our data steward will use the system to run a report and give it to our client and industry teams with a note asking them to identify contacts to remove or add for a specific client or organization. It has also enabled us to make sure our messages get out to the right people, as well as to print out reports that help our attorneys with cross-selling opportunities. They love that!

CRM has saved us money, too. When I started, we were publishing and mailing about 8,000 copies of a glossy magazine three times a year. Some people were getting more than one copy, and that was expensive. By using CRM to de-duplicate and massage our data, we cut our mailing list down to 5,000. That’s a huge savings! Now we’re able to build up the list with the right people by using CRM to identify contacts who should be getting the magazine. It’s a great tool.

So is Mailing List Manager, part of our CRM system. We have an annual tent party at a West Virginia University football game and send out 5,000 e-invitations. We used to have to look through our old database, run a separate Excel spreadsheet for every attorney and
circulate it. They would mark it up and return it, and   we would then have to go in, change the data, enter the information, print it out, and send it to the printer for the mailing.

This morning it took me less than 30 minutes to update my Mailing List Manager and send an email to our attorneys saying “Here’s a spreadsheet with all your contacts. Please mark who should be invited to the tent party.” As the attorneys mark the spreadsheets, Mailing List Manager automatically updates the information in our database. When I need to, it will take me 15 minutes to pull an Excel spreadsheet for the mailing and send it to my printer. Mailing List Manager will save me 20 to 30 hours of work, just for that one event.

Joy Long comments:

For me, the benefit of using CRM is just amazing. For instance, we were able to get rid of six-figure printing, postage and mailing costs. Also, before CRM we were able to send out only two or three things a month because of the incredible time involved. Now I’m able to work with the different industry and practice groups and expand our blog platform. So today we have eight blogs and seven newsletters, and we regularly send out seminar invitations and special client alerts — all without having to increase staff!

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Before CRM we were able to send out only two or three things a month because of the incredible time involved… Today we have eight blogs and seven newsletters, and we regularly send out seminar invitations and special client alerts — all without having to increase staff!  — Joy Long

Because we’ve gained so much efficiency with the CRM, it’s easier to send out things.  Something that would take two or three days is now down to a matter of minutes because you’re putting the tools in everybody else’s hands. It’s just so much more efficient!

For the full white paper visit our website – http://colevalley.com/Resources.aspx

 

CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 3, Implementation

Last week we shared CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 2, Planning and Budgeting. This is our CRM five part series:  1) Getting Buy-In, 2) Planning and Budgeting, 3) Implementation, 4) Data Management, and 5) Impact and ROI.

Part 3 – Implementation

This is where the rubber meets the road. How you go about implementing your CRM system can determine whether it is successful, as well as whether you maximize the benefits you get from it. Here are some things the panelists suggest to do or keep in mind as you put CRM to work for your firm.

View More: http://benjamindavidphotography.pass.us/foster-headshotsKim Hafley comments:

For me, the key to implementing CRM is figuring out your main goal, identifying a champion and getting feedback from staff. So if your culture is the type where your people have input into the process, they are much more likely to follow and use a system that they feel they are a part of creating.

“When you’re thinking about implementation, think about training the end users and realize that the needs of different users are probably going to be different.”  — Kim Hafley

While it’s easy to get excited about all the bells and whistles a CRM system has, it’s important and easier to be successful if you pick one feature as a goal, implement it, and then track the metrics involved that prove you were successful in realizing benefits. Then you can go on to phase two and phase three.

When you’re thinking about implementation, think about training the end users and realize that the needs of different users are probably going to be different. In our focus groups with support staff, we were able to get a good handle on what the secretaries needed to feel successful using CRM, what the paralegals needed, and what they thought the attorneys needed. This led to our doing a lot of one-on-one training. You may
think that’s not very efficient. But it turned out to be incredibly efficient for our culture because we were able to go through a checklist and make sure everyone had a core competency.

We were also able to ask how firm members thought CRM  might benefit them, or what immediate benefit they saw, whether it was being able to see what other newsletters a client might be receiving or who else in the firm might know the client. This made the training personal, so people felt more responsible for the system, and it really helped us in keeping the data clean over the long haul, because people realized how important that is.

In the focus groups we also looked at the data fields. Everybody’s got a preferred way of entering data; for example, whether they use titles or put nicknames in the name field. We told the groups that we can have only one way to enter data, and we’re not going to be able to accommodate everything. Instead, we need to find a common denominator and agree upon a standard. This exercise helped immensely, because we had dialogue and people felt involved. So if a field wasn’t what they preferred, they understood the reasoning behind it.

The other thing that helped was to appoint a data steward who enters the data not only for the marketing system but also for the accounting system, so it’s the same person. That suggestion came out of our focus groups. Implementing it made the staff feel that their concerns and ideas are listened to. So they are very “bought into” the system and continue to come up with great suggestions.

Joseph_Barb_PP (1)Barbara Joseph comments:
The one aspect of implementation I did not appreciate enough, but certainly do now, is the different levels of what I’ll call “housekeeping” that people do for their Outlook contacts. I just didn’t realize how bad some of the attorneys’ housekeeping was. One had the same person in his contacts seven times at seven different jobs. As the person changed jobs, the attorney just kept putting in a new record and never took out the obsolete entries. Even though we were very clear in our request on what we wanted people to do and share, they took the easy route sometimes.

“It really helped to be able to get on the phone with Cole Valley and ask what I should do. They had done so many implementations that I never threw anything at them they hadn’t already encountered.” — Barbara Joseph

Also, we initially felt that more was better and encouraged people to add in all of their contacts and relationships. But a lot of the older contacts were not current. That muddied up our data.

We’re more watchful now as data comes in. That’s one of the reasons we slowed down the implementation and brought in smaller groups of attorneys at a time. That helped us control the data.

As analytical as I thought I was and as much homework as I did on CRM, many times I hit a fork in the road during implementation and would have to make a decision about something I hadn’t considered. It really helped to be able to get on the phone with Cole Valley and ask what I should do. They had done so many implementations that I never threw anything at them they hadn’t already encountered. That kept me from taking the wrong fork or just being paralyzed, not sure which way to go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJoy Long comments:

The first time I rolled out a CRM system, I rolled out everything at once. The problem wasn’t that firm members didn’t like CRM or that it didn’t eventually succeed, but that it was too much all at once. The main thing I’ve learned is to phase in CRM. This keeps it exciting and new, rather than giving so much information at once that people’s heads are going to explode.

This time I was able to break down the implementation process and focus on what the new users absolutely needed to know and do. Going one step at a time starts to embed the system into people’s everyday activities and teaches them something that’s simple yet helpful.  Then you can build on that.  Being realistic is key.

Stay tuned for next week’s article – CRM Implementation Best Practices – Part 4, Data Management. For the full whitepaper visit our website – http://colevalley.com/Resources.aspx