Tech Partner Talks: Putting the Right Teams in Place

In our earlier Tech Partner Talks, we shared questions to ask your tech vendor and why their answers matter, talked about the importance of law firm experience and why it’s important to know how many people are actually using the product, and the importance of understanding what happens when the implementation is finished. And while each of these talks is focused on helping you find the right partner, in this session we’ll look at both sides of the partnership — the one between vendor and firm. As always, you can find the full session as well as the earlier sessions in the Resources section of the ContactEase website.

Building the right internal team is just as important as selecting the right outside partner. You’ve heard it dozens of times if not more — it’s about the people and the processes not jus the platform. And it’s true! Including the right people from the start will help ensure buy-in for your project and keep it moving forward.

As Director of Client Services at ContactEase, Amber Elliot leads the implementation team – this means she works with clients from the start. It means working with firms rolling out CRM for the first time as well as transitioning from other products and overcoming failed implementations. After the implementation, she often finds herself offering guidance on best practices, providing a shoulder to lean on and works with our own internal teams like training and support to ensure clients receive relevant and useful content.

So, what does a successful implementation look like to Amber? Let’s hear from our in-house expert, “For me, a successful implementation really comes down to having the right team and a clear strategy. Identifying the right project team is a critical step in a firm’s planning process and it needs to be done early on. By the time a firms has signed a contract, they should feel pretty good about the vendor they’re partnering with and have probably met the people they’ll be working with, but often find that there hasn’t been a lot of thought given to the internal project team,” she said. Elliott finds that while most firms come into the project with a good idea of who the key team members will be often they’re surprised to hear her suggest adding or even not including others.

Depending on the size of the firm and the scope of the project, a typical project team for a CRM implementation might include:

  • Marketing & Business Development
  • IT
  • Internal Project Manager
  • Data Steward
  • Trainer
  • ContactEase Project Leads

Marketing/Business Development

When considering who to include from, you’ll want to think about how your team is comprised. How big is your team? If you’re a department of one (or even two), it’s pretty obvious that the entire department will be intimately involved with a software implementation. For larger teams, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to have everyone involved. When looking at who to include from the marketing and business development, your first instinct is probably to include your director or CMO. For some firms that will be the right decision, but that’s not always the case. Often times the director or CMO will be involved in the purchase of CRM, but they’re not always the best person for the implementation team because they have higher level priorities and don’t always have the time to focus on the project at a granular level. They will often entrust other members of their team to take an active role in the project and report back to them about what they need to know and what they need to do to keep things moving forward.

When you are selecting project team members, you want to make sure they are capable of understanding the higher concept ideas and the firm’s goals for the new technology so that they can translate those messages to others in the firm and ensure the identified goals for the project are being met.

Information Technology (IT)

Of course, no tech project is going to move forward without IT involvement. And it’s especially important for your IT team to understand the project’s technical requirements. For example, an on-premise solution may require more resources than something in the cloud.

Again, you might think that a CIO or director would be the good choice, but if their responsibilities are spread thin — working across multiple projects and priorities — you may want to rethink it. Questions to ask might include:

  • Who will be working directly with lawyers and others to implement the new technology?
  • Who will be answering technical questions?
  • Can the IT members of your team effectively translate the requirements to others in their department or in the firm?

Internal Project Manager

The internal project manager is probably the most important element of your team. It’s critical that you identify one member of your team as the internal project manager. This person will work closely with both the internal team and the vendor team and is ultimately responsible for the success of the project from beginning to end. Your internal project manager should be someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions, can make sure other members of the team are meeting deadlines, and has a clear understanding of the goals and objectives for the project.

Data Stewards

The data steward is the most common role we find hasn’t been allocated at the start of the project and it’s one of the most important. There are many ways to successfully fill the data steward responsibilities. Not all firms have full or even part time data stewards. Some prefer to dedicate a staff member for a couple of hours each week, others just do it where they can. There are also companies who provide data steward services, so outsourcing is an option. There are options for automated data cleanup as well. During the implementation, you’ll want the data steward involved because there will be key milestones for things like data clean up and finalizing your internal style guide. These are things that will affect the project even after the implementation is complete.

Vendor Project Team

On the vendor side, you should also have a dedicated team. Make sure the technology partner you’re selecting tells you how they staff their project teams.

Don’t Forget About Your Stakeholders

While they aren’t official members of your project team, it’s important to involve stakeholder representatives. These are people who can convey key messages about your project and the problems it will solve to their peers. They can also work as an extension of your project team – they don’t need to be caught up in the details. Keep them well-informed and make sure they’re capable of selling the product’s benefits across the firm. And just like your project team, your stakeholders should represent user types from across the firm.

For more information on building the right teams and to hear how firms benefit, be sure to check out the full broadcast on our Resources page!

Tech Partner Talks: Questions to Ask Every Tech Vendor

In the latest installment of our Tech Partner Talks series, ContactEase Director of Client Services, Amber Elliott and Documentation & Training Specialist, Sara Coffey discuss the importance of finding the right partner to move your projects forward and share some of the questions they think you should ask every potential tech vendor.

The wrong partner can really derail a project and potentially affect buy-in for future projects however the right partner can be your success for years to come. Check out the full broadcast on the Resources page of our website and read on for our top three questions to ask every potential tech vendor.

Question 1: Have you worked with law firms? How many?

At ContactEase, our focus is on professional services firms. Many of our clients are law firms and many of our team members are former clients. We know the legal industry. This is important because law firms are a unique business culture and if your vendor doesn’t understand that they may not be the best partner for your firm. The distinction becomes eve more important if your lawyers are going to be involved in the decision making process and also if they’re going to be using the product themselves.

If you’ve come to legal from another industry, you know that law firms just run differently. In addition to the pace, there are considerations like ethics rules, client service and a general understanding of the culture, language and work.

Early in Sara’s career, she would try to bring in friends for creative projects and it caused some frustration because often they just didn’t understand how law firms operated. I’ve also seen She also experienced frustrations with vendors who argued they could make it work because they’d done it a million times before and “how different could law firms really be?”

Question 2: Does your product integrate with other firm systems?

Integrations are popular for many reasons. We’re all looking for ways to improve efficiencies and ensure we have the best data in front of us. You may not be able to add more people, but you can leverage products and processes to make your work life easier.

When it comes to CRM, some of the most important integrations are with financial systems and email campaign platforms. An integrated ERM component is also a huge benefit:

Integrating your firm’s CRM and financial systems streamlines data entry processes. It can eliminate a lot of that back and forth between marketing and finance and help provide you with the most current information when and where you need it.

Marketing automation integrations like with Constant Contact for example or any other email campaign tool –  improve efficiencies for the marketing department – not only when it comes to getting your mailings out in a timely manner, but also to ensure that you’re getting those campaign metrics back into your CRM system where you can analyze and report on the effectiveness of the firm’s targeted marketing initiatives.

An integrated ERM tool ensures you are getting all of the firm’s contacts into your CRM system – even those that aren’t being entered by the attorneys. And even more importantly – you get critical relationship information so you understand not only who knows whom but who has the strongest relationship with each contact so you can truly leverage those existing relationships.

The systems you’ll want to integrate with will vary from firm to firm and depend on your unique goals, just keep in mind some products claim to do it all but when you integrate different platforms rather than look for one that keeps everything in one place you can ensure your products are doing what they do best.

Question 3: How is your product accessed? Is it on-premise or in the cloud?

Historically, law firms and the legal industry as a whole have been reticent to move their systems to the cloud. While many firms were beginning to look for cloud-based solutions, the pandemic of 2022 sped things up for many. When we’re talking about the cloud, it’s really just a way to say that files are housed offsite on “someone else’s computer.” Some firms are moving towards cloud-only solutions while others aren’t quite ready. Ultimately, its up to the firm. As long as there is need, we will always meet our clients where they are and where they want to be.

For further expansion on the questions above as well as more questions to ask your potential tech partners, visit the Resources page on the ContactEase website. Be sure to check back next week when we’ll be discussing how to build the right teams.

WEBINAR: Why CRM, Why Now

Communicating with your firm’s contacts has never been more important. In this webinar, you’ll hear from Jill Rinne, Marketing Director at Larson LLP and Lindsay Vendegnia, Marketing Manager at Moye White — two law firm marketers using CRM to advance marketing, strengthen relationships, and help their firms win more business. 

What We’ll Discuss:

  • How they identified the need for CRM 
  • The problems they were trying to solve 
  • How they made the business case for CRM (and why they selected ContactEase)
  • Lessons learned and advice for fellow marketers

And of course, we’ll leave time for questions. Anything you ever wanted to know about CRM? Here’s your chance to ask! Feel free to submit them in advance when you register.

Can’t join us live? Register anyway and we’ll send you the recording. 

About the Panelists

Jil Rinne, Marketing Director, Larson LLP

Jil Rinne’s enthusiasm for branding and persuasive messaging combined with her insight into the legal industry and a keen understanding of how lawyers think, work, and communicate allows her to create effective and compelling stories about the people behind the firm. Prior to joining Larson LLP, Jil managed the marketing and communications department at a litigation boutique in Los Angeles and worked at two Am Law 100 firms in Boston. She is a member of the Legal Marketing Association and co-chair of the Homelessness Working Group for the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance.

Lindsay Vendegnia, Marketing Manager, Moye White LLP

Lindsay Vendegnia uses her passion for marketing, communications, and business development to develop new tactics to support emerging and developing practice areas and work with her team to create and implement the strategic efforts of her firm’s practice groups. Prior to joining Moye White, she acted as the Client Services Director of JC Denver Home Team and the Program Communications Director at the Parkinson Association of the Rockies. Lindsay is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and is pursuing her Master’s in Marketing from the University of Colorado at Denver.

About ContactEase 

ContactEase is CRM Made Easy for lawyers. With an industry-leading adoption rate, ContactEase CRM ensures your important firm contacts receive the right communications at the right time. In addition to its easy-to-use CRM platform, ContactEase offers an integrated suite of products from marketing automation to financial system integration and enterprise relationship management to strengthen relationships and help firms win more business. Learn more at contactease.com.


Improve Your Metrics by Understanding Your Undeliverables

For many marketers, it might seem like getting sign-off for firm blogs and e-alerts (if not getting them written at all) is the biggest challenge to the success of an e-mail marketing campaign, but there’s one thing that matters even more – your email data quality.  

From layout to content approval, firm marketers spend a lot of time on email campaigns before they can even think about sending them. But, what good is any email if it isn’t seen by its intended recipients?

Sending to undeliverable or “bad” email addresses can have a significant impact on you email performance metrics as well as your overall sender reputation. Let’s take a look at two of the reasons why:

  • Sending to bad email addresses can negatively impact your open rate. When you send to bad email addresses, your open rate declines. While there are many reasons a recipient might not open your email, one of the most obvious is that they aren’t receiving them.
  • Sending to bad email addresses can negatively impact your sender reputation. Consistently including bad email addresses may result in flagging your sender account as spam and send emails from your account directly to the junk folder even when an email address is valid.  

So, how do you improve your contact lists?  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Make sure you’re sending to contacts who want to hear from you (opt-in). Whether you have a process as part of your intake of new clients or a subscription form on your website, make sure your contacts want to hear from you and they know what they can expect to receive from you. It’s not just good manners, it’s good business and can also ensure your compliance with privacy regulations like CAN-SPAM, CASL and GDPR among others.
  2. Regularly review your engagement reports. If you have a high number of bounces or unsubscribes and a low open rate, there’s probably a reason why. Make sure you’re removing bounced email addresses from your lists and create a process to research and update with good ones. Keep track of when contacts unsubscribe and target your content accordingly. Think about a tool like ContactEase Change Tracker which can improve your deliverability by looking for changes to key fields like job title, email address and company name.  
  3. Segment your contact lists. Craft targeted content and build targeted lists to ensure that the information you share is relevant and meaningful to your readers.

Taking a proactive approach and reviewing your email engagement reports on a regular basis will improve your email metrics and ensure that your communications are getting to the right people at the right time. As former law firm marketing and IT professionals, the ContactEase team not only advises clients on e-mail and data quality best practices, but we’ve experienced many of these challenges ourselves. If you have questions about how to address data quality at your firm or want to know how firms are handling similar issues, contact us. We’re here to help!

Back to Basics: A Single Source of Truth

In our Back to Basics series, we’re doing just that – getting back to basics to understand the fundamentals of CRM and why it matters to your firm. In this post we’re looking at CRM as a single source of truth and what that means.

As we wrote in our last post, the main job of any CRM is to store and organize your firm’s contacts – all the details, any communication or touch points you’ve had with them – in one place (i.e. a single source of truth). CRM helps your firm’s professionals stay connected to your clients and can help improve profitability and internal processes (see ROI: Boost Revenue with CRM).

So yes, at its most basic, CRM provides you with a single source of truth for your firm’s important clients and contacts. With so many data stores available at most firms, it can be difficult to know what to trust. A CRM provides you with a single, reliable source of truth where your clients, contacts and opportunities exist. This is also why integrations are so important.

An essential feature of any CRM should be the ability to integrate with other systems (see Bridge Building with CRM). When you integrate CRM with your firm’s existing systems, data from your technology stack can be captured across platforms and you can rely on your CRM as, yes, you guessed it, a single source of truth. At ContactEase, we know that we make a great CRM. We don’t want to do it all. That’s why we partner with other popular applications that your firm already knows and uses.

In recent years we’ve introduced integrations with marketing automation systems like Constant Contact, Mailchimp, and Vuture and time and billing systems like Aderant, Juris and Elite. We are constantly evaluating the market and speaking with our clients to connect with the systems they are using. If your systems don’t talk to one another, you run the risk of having information that is outdated, incomplete and just plain wrong. When you make CRM and data integrity a priority, your firm will be better equipped to understand where your communications with your clients and prospects stand.

Talking Points: Does My Firm Need CRM?

If there’s no single source for information at your firm, you run the risk of duplicating outreach, having outdated information, and leaving key contacts off of important mailings. CRM can provide a single view of every client’s contact information and firm outreach, without which, you may not be able to fully implement strategic marketing and business development initiatives.

The State of CRM at Law Firms: A Market-Wide Study

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Nearly 75% of all law firms have some sort of Client Relationship Management (CRM) system in place, yet respondents to a recently released survey indicate that few of their lawyers regularly use it. In contrast, ContactEase users report a higher-than-average utilization rate for their attorneys. The Ackert Advisory’s “The State of CRM at Law Firms” examines utilization, user experience and return on investment (ROI) of CRM platforms and their relationship to business development.

ContactEase was recognized by its users in a number of areas. Among the findings:

  • ContactEase (24%) and InterAction (45%) lead the CRM legal market with a combined market share of 69%.
  • ContactEase has increased its market share by 6% since last year’s survey.
  • ContactEase users reported a higher utilization rate than the overall market.
  • ContactEase users reported a lower level of data entry issues and a less complicated interface (in comparison to other CRM systems).
  • ContactEase users reported an average of 18% of lawyers use CRM regularly (the majority of survey respondents indicated 0-5% of their attorneys utilized CRM on a regular basis.

About ContactEase
ContactEase communicates with clients and prospects to enhance existing relationships and drive new business. In addition, ContactEase works with firms to develop ROI with business analytics and opportunity/pipeline management tools, and integrates with accounting and other systems.

ContactEase has a greater than 90% adoption rate due in part to its seamless Outlook integration, easy-to-use tools and a highly experienced support team. ContactEase can pull contacts from email, alert users of changes in their data, integrate with telephone systems, allow updates from mobile devices, allow contacts to RSVP online for events and update their own data.

Selecting the right CRM platform is essential to the success of any firm’s marketing and business development program. For more information about ContactEase and CRM best practices for getting buy-in, implementation, data management and ROI, visit our resources page.

ContactEase is used by over 250 law and accounting firms, with 16,000+ users worldwide. To read the report in its entirety, click here.

 

ContactEase CRM Welcomes New Law Firm Client: Osborn Maledon

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ContactEase CRM welcomes new law firm client Osborn Maledon PA with 50 attorneys located in Phoenix, Arizona. Visit them online at  www.osbornmaledon.com.

 

 

ContactEase CRM Welcomes New Law Firm Client: Paley Rothman

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ContactEase CRM welcomes new law firm client Paley Rothman with 40 attorneys located in Bethesda, Maryland. Visit them online at www.paleyrothman.com.

 

Getting Buy-In For CRM, A Step-by-Step Guide

handshake of businessmen.You’ve done your research: you know that CRM can maximize efficiency, help your department dramatically shrink the time it takes to organize mailing lists, and get targeted communications out the door and into the right hands. But first you have to convince management it is worth the investment.
Download our step-by-step guide to help you define the cost of not having a CRM…

http://www.colevalley.com/Resources.aspx

Webinar: Getting Partner Buy-In for CRM!

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Wednesday, November 02, 2016

2:00 PM ET – 3:00 PM ET

Register to attend – https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/711881380025152769

Need CRM, but worried about getting buy-in?

Learn how to build consensus and understand the needs within your firm. Hear how others have obtained buy-in from management and most importantly, hear from management directly.

Firms realize the need to be more efficient, replacing existing systems like spreadsheets and obsolete products, but what does it take to move forward? Our panelists will teach you how, why and when to ask for CRM in your firm.

Our panelists will discuss:

  • How they won approval for CRM in their firms
  • What problems prompted the why CRM discussion within their firms
  • What was the process for identifying the internal champions
  • When did each of them make a business case for CRM and ultimately get it approved

Meet Our Panelists:

  • Paul Morton, Chief Operating Officer at Burns & Levinson, a Boston-based firm with more than 125 attorneys and offices in Providence and New York.  He is responsible for facilities, finance, human capital, marketing and business development, operations, strategic planning, and technology within the firm.  He has managed law firms for more than 30 years.
  • Paul J. (PJ) Sawchuk joined in 2006 Franklin & Prokopik, a mid-Atlantic law firm with about 65 attorneys focused on insurance defense.  In his role as Director of IT, he develops and implements strategic initiatives to align technology with business process. These responsibilities also include direct oversight of end user support operations, facilities and systems management, and leading interdepartmental projects.
  • Jaclyn Braga has worked in marketing for service industries for over 12 years. As the Marketing Manager at Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, PC, she led all marketing initiatives for the firm of 40 attorneys, including website management, social media development, advertising, and CRM roll-out and integration. Jaclyn recently moved to the accounting industry and now holds the position of Director of Marketing at Tonneson + Co.

For more information about ContactEase CRM Made Easy for Professional Services Firms, please contact us: 1-800-447-1712 ext.2 or sales@colevalley.com.