In this blog post, Priyanka Nema, a Director at NISSCON Services (OPC) Pvt. Ltd. and pursuing a Diploma in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Laws from NUJS, Kolkata, describes the need for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in Law Firms.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM basically stand for Customer Relationship Management and a law firm is a business entity formed by one or more lawyers to engage in practice of law and provide their services customers/clients. That is why a Customer Relationship Management system can help a law firm to not only boost their business but also can help them to manage their customers and client more efficiently.
Some of the client’s related day to day task which any law firm has to deal are:
- Communicate with individual or corporate clients about their legal rights and responsibilities.
- Help their clients in business transactions and other matters in which legal advice and assistance is required.
- Communicate with individual or corporate clients about progress on any case on which firm is working currently.
- Communicate with individuals or corporate about any legal notices which are received by firm.
- Study various use cases relevant to customer and do R&D and create notes for customers current case.
- Maintain customer-related records securely and search through them quickly when needed.
- Law firm usually have multiple customers and partners/lawyers need to work on more than one cases simultaneously. This needs to be managed without errors.
- Maintain customer payment records and raise invoices as and when needed.
- Management and lawyers when meeting with clients require various types of information to be presented.
How Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can Help a Law Firm?
- New Customer Win
Whenever a law firm gets a lead which needs to be converted to a customer, sales team can use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to present various facts and figures about firm’s track records which can help new customer win.
Customer Relationship Management system can also help leads to access public domain information shared by firm in the form of blogs and website to take glimpse of expertise which a firm can offer as well as various use cases and important client cases which firm has won in past.
All this information is very valuable for opting for firm’s services and helps any lead to decide and become customer/client.
- Customer Onboarding
CRM can be used for new customer on-boarding quickly and easily by collecting vital information from customer directly or feed in manually using web based interface.
All information can be stored centrally and securely and can be retrieved easily whenever required.
- Customer Case Management
Whenever any customer needs legal assistance, a ticket/case can be opened using Customer Relationship Management. Then CRM can be used in entire life-cycle of a ticket/case and manage vital information related to case in form of work flow.
This approach can help engagement of various lawyers and support staff as and when needed.
Whenever any lawyer/staff is engaged, they can feed in their input in CRM system itself which can be referred by other stakeholders. Using Customer Relationship Management automated communication both internal and/or external can be done by various channels like email, SMS, letters, Fax etc.
- Public Information Portal
In today’s world, information is key and making customers informed not only helps law firm to gain customer’s trust but also helps in winning new customers. CRM plays vital role in this.
CRM can contain a front facing Content management system which can be used to create database of various informative articles as well as use cases. This document bank can be referred by not only internal stakeholders but can be used by customers as well.
- Customer Information Portal
Using Customer Relationship Management, a law firm can provide a central and private Information portal for each of their customers. Such information portal helps customer keep track of their current and past cases. Some of the uses are-
- Can centrally and securely upload and download legal and general information.
- Can also be used to create new cases.
- Provide feedback and see various financial information like invoices, bills and make online payment as well.
- Customer can also use such portal for other task like their business profile, Contact person etc.
- Document Store and Legal Case Reference System
CRM can also act as secure document storage which can store database of various types of legal cases and reference material. Such material helps lawyers and other support staff while working on cases.
- Intranet for Staff
Customer Relationship Management system also provides intranet which can be used for internal staff for various types of interdepartmental communication. This can ease communication between various teams which take part in overall customer management and help serving customers with ease.
- Accounting and Performance Reports
CRM system can also provide various services like accounting and different types of reports which can provide important insight to upper management of firm and help them take vital decisions for betterment of firm.
- Various Compliance Requirements
Law firms also have to adhere to legal and various types of compliance procedures and the Customer Relationship Management can make this process easy and make sure that errors do not come or can be caught on time.
Custom workflows can be made in CRM which can make various process easy to understand and follow and various types of staff can participate in the process and compliance can be achieved with ease and in less amount of time.
Auditing can also be done for entire process at various stages.
- Mobile Access
Today’s world is world of smart phones and tablets or we can also say today’s world is digital world. Law firms who are using CRM can tap to this medium and provide their staff, lawyers and customers digital access to various tools. This also enables a law firm to tap customers quickly and serve remote customers as well.
Each and every time customer is not required to visit physically to firms offices to get their work done. This not only saves time of customer, it also saves valuable time of firm’s partners, lawyers and staff as well.
- Social Media and Marketing
CRM system also helps law firms to manage and maintain their brand identity and their marketing campaigns. This helps in lead generation which when converted can lead to new customers.
CRM system these days also help law firms to manage their social media presence which is a good source of new potential customers and clients and also serve as a public platform to showcase themselves.
- Save Customer, Lawyer’s and Staff’s Valuable Time
Time is money. Customer Relationship Management provides various tools (few of them are listed above) which can help save lots of time of customers, Lawyers and Staff.
- Customer does not have to come down to firm’s office each and every time for each and every thing. They can also provide information via secure channels and do not have to send everything physically.
- Lawyers and Staff can parallely work on multiple customer account and cases using CRM system. This saves their valuable time and they can work more efficiently. Dependency on each other can be resolved very quickly using a CRM for internal staff and partners in a timebound manner which also saves lots of time.
- Various workflows and process can be configured in CRM system which can engage right staff at right moment for resolving a customer case which leads to greater customer satisfaction and makes life of staff easy and stress free.
Cons of Using Customer Relationship Management
Any thing which has pros also has cons or negative points. Same is case for Customer Relationship Management system as well.
- Some Cons of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system are as follows:
- Staff and lawyers need to understand Customer Relationship Management system and learn it as well to use it effectively.
So there is always a learning curve involved and some technical know how is also required. Sometime this is big problem for senior staff and senior lawyers of law firms.
- Good Customer Relationship Management systems also have cost involved so law firm has to factor in additional expense.
- Information goes digital so proper security needs to be maintained to safeguard information.
- Legal and other compliance regarding data, privacy needs to be met for hosting Customer Relationship Management system.
- Specialized workforce like IT specialist and system administrators needs to be engaged for maintaining Customer Relationship Management system.
- Customer sometimes also are not very comfortable to use any Customer Relationship Management system due to privacy concerns and data security.
Anything and everything has both positive and negative aspects. So should a law firm use a Customer Relationship Management or not can only be determined by factoring in various factors like number of clients, types of client, revenue generated by firm, expenditure capability of a firm and their need and requirements.
But judging on number of pros versus number of cons, I personally feel that each law firm should use some or other types of CRM system to engage more proactively with their customers and also help their staff to be more efficient.
Using a CRM in today’s world gives a firm lots of competitive advantage which they can use to tap new customers, retain existing customers and also use cutting edge technology and social media to their advantage.
CRM based CMS or Content Management system also serve as public information portal which can help general public to read interesting articles to safe them from various types of legal troubles. But just in case they get into one they can count on firm to help them.
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