Imagine removing your attorneys and their assistants from the CRM data input process and eliminating your “CRM adoption” roadblocks forever. That vision is now a reality – with ERM.
Over the last few years, a new technology has emerged that has proven to be a game-changer: Enterprise Relationship Management (ERM) systems. ERMs were developed to harvest the vast quantity of meta-data available from email traffic to answer the simple question that CRM alone has failed to successfully answer, which also happens to be the cornerstone of marketing a professional services firm: who knows whom and how well? These ERM systems create relationship information between a contact and the lawyers in the firm they are emailing. This relationship information is based on the recency and frequency of emails between a lawyer and a contact. Some systems can also be configured to include calendar appointments in calculating the strength of a relationship.
Unlike CRM-based who-knows-whom identification, which was strictly a snapshot, dependent solely upon capturing which firm member shared a particular contact and therefore (it was assumed) knew that contact, ERM systems can dynamically calculate strength of a relationship over time. Practically, this means that relationship reporting with ERM is going to be more reliable in the long term because it is designed to reflect real-time changes in communication patterns. For example, a partner may have a relationship with a client today and because of their frequent communication related to a matter, the strength is calculated to be a 5. But if the matter ends and their communication becomes less frequent, the partner’s relationship with that client may drop over time to a 2. Meanwhile, a new partner working with the same client on a new matter will see their score increase the more communications are sent.
ERM systems also include an essential function called signature capture or scraping, which allows the system to create a contact record based on the contact’s email signature block. Now, we can automatically create complete and fairly accurate contact records that contain first name, last name, job title, company, email, phone number and sometimes even a physical address. This saves the attorneys (and/or their assistants) considerable time because all they have to do is continue with their daily work, aka billable client work. Basically, ERM let’s lawyers be lawyers.
It’s important to note that while the information captured from a signature block is often actually superior to Outlook contact data, which can be incomplete, incorrect or dated, ERM systems are not perfect, so some human review by a trained data quality professional or data steward is essential to ensure that the data is captured accurately.
CRM System Use Redefined
The good news is that with many of the CRM systems with ERM functionality, the lawyers don’t even have to be licensed users of the CRM. They will be ‘using’ the system just by doing what they normally do; communicating regularly with clients for business or business development. They can now be essentially removed from the CRM data input process and are no longer required to create, update and share their contacts and relationships. Meanwhile, Marketing and BD professionals can now get the information they need to effectively communicate, target and segment. By eliminating the “CRM adoption” roadblock, we have new freedom to define new metrics that are meaningful and can actually support business development success. Now that’s success.