Six Steps to an Easier CRM

by Alejandra Muniz on October 13, 2011

Client Relationship Management (CRM) is a widely-implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients, and prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients, nurture and retain current clients, entice former clients back into the fold, and reduce the costs of marketing and client service.

Given CRM’s clear definition and widely understood importance to a firm’s business development initiatives, why do we struggle with its implementation? CRM sounds simple enough but it can quickly become complicated by numerous procedures and constant quality checks that can throw us off balance.

Below are six steps to help you make CRM more stress-free.

1. Set Measurable Goals
Learn where your database is, in order to understand where it should go. You may wish to determine:
• How many People contacts do you currently have?
• How many Company contacts?
• How many contacts have a relationship with an attorney at your firm?
• How many contacts are subscribed to your firm’s mailing lists?
• How many contacts do not have an email address?
• How many contacts are possible duplicates?
• How many have bounced emails?
• How many end users have contributed contacts to the firm list?

After analyzing these numbers, did you realize that a huge percentage of your contacts don’t have email addresses? Or that most of your attorneys are still hoarding their contacts? Perhaps you receive a lot of bounced emails?

• Now that you’re aware of your problem areas, you can prioritize goals accordingly.
• Bounce backs? Aim to diminish by 40%.
• No email address? Aim to research current email address by 50%.
• Put a number next to your goal and you just might reach it! (Or at least you’ll know how far you have to go.)

And never underestimate the power measurable goals have on ROI calculations.

2. Know what you need (versus what you want)
Getting the spouse name, shirt size and food preference for the firm’s contacts would be very helpful to your events team but should probably not be high on the priority list. Good thing you have those measurable goals! Focus on the goals approved by your CMO, Marketing Director, CRM Manager, or Technology Committee, and you will be on your way to a more efficient CRM plan.

3. Document Procedures
Remember that consistency is CRM’s friend. How do you make sure the same steps are taken for procedures that don’t happen often or those that are handled by different people? You write them down!

A few tips:
• Use bullet points
• Document each step (including those you assume are small and automatic… in fact, especially those you assume are small and automatic.)
• A picture is worth a thousand words

4. Motivate and Train Your Users!
You must focus on two audiences: End Users (Partners and Secretaries) and Power Users (Data Stewards, Marketing, IS, etc.)

End Users: Partners need to understand the benefits and efficiencies of a shared database, while their secretaries need a step-by-step guide to the procedures they need to perform.
You may wish to engage your audience with:
• A contest to entice competitive attorneys to participate
• Short videos to demonstrate simple processes
• Lunch-n-Learn meetings, etc.

Power Users: CRM can quickly take your life hostage! (This is not a threat; it is a statement of fact.) Delegating to your Power Users will be a useful tool in maintaining your sanity. Aren’t you glad you documented those procedures? Follow them! Make sure there is consistency in how data is entered and how processes take place among your Power Users.

5. Data Quality
Garbage In, Garbage Out. We’ve all heard the cliche. So how do we stop it from happening? A few tips:
• Run quality searches periodically.
• Be sure to have enough Data Stewards or Power Users to verify and approve updates provided by your attorneys, bounce back emails, and out-of-office messages.
• If your budget allows, you may look into technology that can help with this process.
• Review how you train and motivate your End Users. Attorneys are the first to know when their contacts change their information. Make sure they uderstand the updating process and its importance.

6. Improve! Improve! Improve!
The steps above have moved you toward a sustainable CRM system. Now take a moment to do the following:

• Note your progress toward your measurable goals, and the impact ROI. Then, notify your CMO, Marketing Director, or CRM Manager.
• Congratulate your Power Users, and share the numbers that confirm goals have been met.
• Take a few minutes to pat yourself on the back.

Now start all over again. The database you have today is not the database you had when you started. Check the numbers again: do you still have a huge percentage of contacts without email addresses? Are attorneys still hoarding their contacts? Review your documented procedures. Did you miss one of those small and automatic steps while documenting? Have the End and Power Users provide feedback on how the process could be improved, or which new documentation would be useful.

Always remember why we do this: CRM is a tool that helps us better assist our attorneys to build relationships with clients and prospects. Our goal is to facilitate client satisfaction.

Alejandra Muniz is the CRM Data Steward with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in New York City. She can be reached at

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