Making a case for CRM as the backbone of the modern law firm
Imagine a utopian future where cases and clients arrive on your desk fully qualified, a perfect fit for your practice, with a signed representation agreement and a paid retainer. And furthermore, what if I told you that this wasn’t the result of a team of support staff but instead a honed robotic process. Does that sound too good to be true, maybe like the Jetsons or the fabled flying car?
Actually, it’s totally achievable, and the growth-oriented firms that we work with have cracked the tools and processes to make it possible. It comes down to three things: the right technology, the right process, and visibility.
The Robotic Intake Tech Stack
Cast yourself back—Just like computers were once used to be what we call people, the job title of real human people who compute things, and then became room-sized networks of vacuum tubes before becoming the silicon devils we base our lives on today.
In much the same way, intake and customer support staff are more and more becoming tech-assisted roles. The customer relationship manager has gone from job title to class of software. So while human interaction and relationship building will always be the foundation of a great law firm, the right technology stack can make the onboarding and qualification process smoother and less costly, leaving room for more valuable interactions with clients and potential clients.
Not using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is the biggest growth mistake we see most law firms making. A CRM is powerful business software for any customer- or service-oriented business to track your accounts, clients, marketing, sales and revenue and more. For our mission to automate law firm intake, a CRM is absolutely the backbone of the law firm’s technology toolkit. The Customer Relationship Management software ties together all of the other essential tools in a law firm’s stack, including e-signature, billing or time tracking software, specialized case management tools, and an answering service.
Our recommended CRM is HubSpot, and we commonly help our clients integrate Docusign, Hellosign, though Pandadoc is our favorite. HubSpot also easily integrates with Freshbooks, Quickbooks and other time and money solutions.
The Client Intake Process from the Future
We’ve helped clients produce semi-assisted to fully automated versions of a legal intake process. Somewhere in the middle is the best automated process for your business.
The name of the game is qualification. Firstly we use the methods of test and learn agile marketing to make sure traffic to your website is coming from qualified sources (real potential clients you’d like to work with!) in the first place, and then as soon as your lead fills out a form our automated qualification process begins.
Using the right combination of automated data and form collection synchronized to the CRM, automated emails or even fractional trained legal intake staff to take initial calls, we use your business logic to sort leads into qualified and unqualified buckets.
Those disqualified are automatically sent letters formally declining to represent them, in order to prevent future headaches, while the qualified leads can be either automatically booked to your calendar, teed up for your approval, or in the most extreme cases automatically sent the correct representation agreement and retainer bill.
The fundamentals still apply–technology is just a tool, so it’s important to have a solid understanding of business goals and communication ownership among different staff. And automating this process is not always the right answer, but offloading any amount of administrative burden in sorting and papering clients is key to growth.
Your New Super Powered X-ray Vision
Reporting on your intake process is a two-sided question–how efficient is my robot? And how much money is my robot making me?
The CRM is an answer to both questions. By housing this process in a structured format, instead of in emails or spreadsheets, you can easily see how long it takes to onboard a new client or catch any drops.
Even more importantly, you can see the economics of your business. Not only can a CRM tie marketing expense to an account, it can sync with your time software to understand the value of that account and answer general questions about what types of clients or attorneys are the biggest levers for growth.
For example, whose book has the longest lifecycle and lowest marketing cost? Which marketing activities are the most profitable? Which content on the website drives us the highest paying leads? When might I need to hire or expand my partnership?
The real value is that structuring and automating processes doesn’t only make the process more efficient, structuring and automating the process also forces you to structure and automate your business data and reporting. You know what they say: what’s measured is making me a ton of money.
Alright you caught us, there is no android walking and talking robotic intake specialist (we’re still working on it). The truth is less exciting, it’s just a piece of everyday business software, which has extraordinary implications when configured by experts to meet the specific needs of your business.