Remember when James Carvill told candidate Clinton, "It's the economy, stupid!"?
For CRM, I say, "It's the culture, stupid!"
At the LMA conference this week, consultant Aleen Z. Bayard cited a study by IBM that only 15% of CRM users are satisified with its return on investment. Not surprised? That statistic applies to businesses across the spectrum, not just law firms.
Monica Bay and Silvia Coulter penned a wonderful article on CRM ROI and acceptance in Law Firm Inc last year, claiming more than half of the firms with 100 attorneys or more have CRM tools, but less than 30% of lawyers use CRM.
For marketers, CRM is a no-brainer. It helps us keep track of clients, prospects, referral sources, influencers, attorneys and alumni who are constantly moving around. It makes email lists generation easier and allows us to create tailored and targeted lists much easier to develop, especially if the data is clean and robust. CRM is an important intelligence tool, allowing us to understand the depth, quality and nature of relationships. The "who knows whom" function is a powerful networking tool that can prevent embarrassment as often as open doors.
Have you ever prepared a pitch to a prospect, only to find out later in the meeting that she is the next door neighbor (or classmate, or fellow board member....) of a partner in your firm?
If CRM is a no-brainer, why is it so hard to adopt?
Culture. It is hard to change behavior. Adopting CRM for most firms means a leap of faith, a change in thinking, a new way of thinking about the old Rolodex - not to mention how we view clients of the firm and the 'ownership' of relationships. The belief is almost hard-wired. Remember fighting as kids as young as first graders, "He's was my friend first!"
In Coulter and Bay's article (sounds like a retail chain, eh?) Sally Schmidt says lawyers, "don't want to share the information, which is what CRM is all about. Without assurances taht their client relationship will be not be adversely affected, CRM is doomed."
Bay closes with, "Yes, there are hurdles to overcome before your lawyers will embrace CRM. But trust us on this: If you don't use CRU, you will soon pay the price. Your competitors will not only know the name of BigCompany GC's latest wife before you do, but they'll also find out that she is the GC of your top client. Don't wait until it's too late."
Sounds like a leadership challenge to me.
What are you doing in your firm to change culture? How are you leading your firm to keep ahead of issues like CRM adoption?