Benefits of CRM

There are many benefits of establishing a CRM Programme. These include:

• Enhanced experience for Clients.

• Higher levels of employee engagement with Clients.

• Greater collaboration across the firm.

• Increased business development time to build Client relationships.

• Increased awareness of Client activity and related networks.

• One stop access to Client data and content from laptop, tablet computer or mobile phone.

• Greater insight into Client behaviour.

• Greater awareness of the Client's contacts within the firm.

• Easier integration with content from digital marketing campaigns.

Launching a CRM Programme

For an effective CRM programme, it is essential to have someone at senior level with overall responsibility for its implementation. Before a CRM programme can be put in place, a number of factors have to be considered. These include the following:

• Status of the existing databases that are held around the firm.

• Who is responsible for the maintenance of these databases.

• Review of the extent to which data is shared within the firm.

• Creation of a cross-firm project team to ensure stakeholder involvement.

• Definition of system functionality and deliverables.

• Selection options for a suitable proprietary CRM system.

• Cost-benefit analysis of different options.

• Business case approval at board level.

• Selection of the CRM system.

• Establishment of CRM Project Manager and Team.

• Internal communication and change management process requirements.

• IT support requirements.

• Migration of all data to the new system.

• Pilot testing of the CRM system.

• Roll-out of the system in the form of a programme.

• Selection and training of employees in the use of the system.

• Regular checks that employees are updating the system after every Client interaction.

• Integration with the firm's mobile communication network.

CRM System Functionality

When fully operational, a CRM system should enable a firm to have a record of its Clients and the status of the relationship with each Client. The system has to be accessible by anyone who interacts with a Client so that useful information can be added. Many firms allow CRM system access from mobile technology, so those people who meet Clients do not have to wait until they return to their office to update the Client record. It is important to have embedded within people's behaviour a discipline of regularly updating Client information. CRM systems are usually tailored to a firm's requirements. Apart from the usual Client details such as name, job title, company, address and contact details, it is possible to include other details and activity fields within the Client record to enable a picture of the relationship to emerge. Examples of such details for a Client contact are:

• name of relationship partner within the firm;

• who else in the firm knows this contact;

• how well they know this contact;

• strength of relationship;

• warning alerts. Examples of activity fields are:

• introductory meeting;

• cross-selling meeting;

• bid or proposal meeting;

• events attended;

• previous job history;

• social media connections;

• purchasing level;

• technical data requests;

• publication requests;

• media coverage.

HOW SAVILLS DEVELOPS ITS CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS

Richard Crook is Head of Business Development & CRM at global property firm Savills. He took up the role after being involved in the merger between Deloitte and Drivers Jonas. Until he joined Savills they had separate functions covering marketing and business development. Richard created a bridge between them by establishing a Client Relationship Management (CRM) team, focusing on firm wide Client initiatives and a bids and pitches team. Savills has two streams of income, one from business to business (B2B), its commercial property arm, and the other business to consumer (B2C), the real estate arm.

A Four-Tier Approach

'Savills has established a key Client management programme structured on four tiers. It started with a pilot group, a mix of key and potentially large B2B Clients. For this first tier they embedded the classical approach to CRM involving: Client account directors, plans, reviews, understanding the Client's business, SWOT analysis, Client feedback on Savills' performance and analysis of income. For the second tier they rolled out the process to cover all Clients earning Savills over £lm in fees. The third tier covered the next 100 Clients by income and the fourth "Fast track 50" tier embraced those Clients where it was important to develop a relationship.

All four tiers had common themes linked to the CRM process and system, and each Client receives a platinum level of service and relationship management irrespective of size of fee.'

Benefits of CRM

'Underpinning the CRM programme are CRM systems which enable greater visibility across the business and ensure Savills teams have a more joined up approach to Client management. The CRM system shows who Clients are, who in the firm knows them, and what work the business has on with them. It also tracks appointments, pitches and some opportunities - classic CRM material. Their systems have an internet style front end and Savills people can pull off using a Google type search facility 'taxi' and 'long haul' reports, each relevant to the time available to update their Client relationship knowledge prior to a meeting. Savills always took CRM seriously, we just brought a more innovative approach to it, and it took around a year to plan and two years to become fully operational. It is still bedding in and may take a few more years for all staff to buy into its benefits' says Crook. 'It is mandatory for anyone about to visit a Client to pull off the appropriate report to be fully informed of the status of the relationship and avoid any confusion with the Client. After a visit the key facts arising are added to the CRM system with a short follow up statement.'

Getting the Best from a CRM System

Any investment of this type will only yield adequate returns if all employees understand the benefits of using it to the firm. In order to ensure that the CRM system is kept in good shape, employees are encouraged through regular internal communications to:

• share contacts with their colleagues by reviewing who is using the data;

• update their contacts regularly;

• add their names to Clients that they know, have met and with whom they have a relationship;

• add new activities as they arise so that people are aware of the relationship development;

• post opportunities on the system, whether new or referral;

• update the opportunities as changes occur, e.g. with sales pipeline status.

Most CRM systems have the capability of generating status and usage reports, which are often accessible remotely from the office. This facility keeps everyone in the picture regarding the Client relationship.

The Challenges of Developing Strong Client Relationships

Relationships warns that Clients have the choice of staying with their suppliers or moving to others that offer more than just quality service. Most Clients expect to be 'managed' by their suppliers and to have someone assigned to oversee and develop the relationship. Fee earners are faced with the dilemma of balancing their current work and maintaining relationships across their Client portfolios. The selection of Client Relationship Managers is a key factor in retaining Clients. Those managers who provide Clients with the added value of business insights and make introductions to other members of the firm are more likely to retain these Clients and grow their firm's revenue stream. CRM programmes can deliver excellent ROI when employees are fully engaged and collaborative.

Client Relationship Development

CLIENT MANAGEMENT REVIEW QUESTIONS

To what extent:

1. Do you keep in touch with Clients even when there is no work with them?

2. Do you use Client panels to understand what Clients expect of our firm?

3. Do you offer speaking opportunities to Clients?

4. Have you segmented your Client base to help manage relationships?

5. Do you have a formal Client relationship development process?

6. Do you regularly monitor the strength of your Client relationships?

7. Do you have a CRM programme?

8. Do you use a CRM system to record interactions with Clients?

9. Do you use CRM system to provide rapid reports on a Client's status?

10. Do your employees update your CRM system after every Client interaction?

These questions also form the basis of the Relationships section of your Client Management Profile™, which can be found in Chapter 15.

Client Management Model™

 
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