by Christopher Young, Senior Business Consultant, Tikit Ltd (UK)
E-marketing has revolutionised the cost of conveying information to clients. To many firms it has reduced a significant element of the marketing budget to zero cost. But while the terms relationship management and CRM are frequently used, how many fee earners can actually articulate what good relationship management looks like?
My experience is very few. It is easy to overcomplicate but I believe managing relationships is simple once you are aware of some basic truths: Relationships only develop through dialogue and are based upon mutual understanding. But, given dialogue takes time, there is a limit to the number of meaningful relationships fee earners, and firms, can have. Without dialogue, the understanding of an individual’s situation will become increasingly outdated and, consequently, the relationship will decay. Given we all have limited time, we continuously make decisions about which relationships we are prepared to invest time and resources in. If we think we’re not getting enough out of a particular relationship, we will dedicate the time to others. You can only demonstrate you care about a limited number of people. I’d suggest really good relationship management recognises these truths and manages relationships accordingly.
I’ve spent 20 years working in service industries, starting in financial markets and, for the last ten or so years, in the professional services sector. During this time I’ve noticed one of the greatest challenges facing fee earners in the professional sector is how to create reasons for dialogue and subsequently stop relationships decaying. In financial, this is not an issue. Market sentiment changes minute by minute, politicians are hanging things – everything is moving and everyone is trying to form an opinion about what the implications are. In professional, the fee earning community find it harder to generate reasons to call. On the face of it, e-marketing cannot help with relationship management. It is a broadcast tool – not a communications tool. You do not develop an understanding of a client’s situation through sending a newsletter. You can however use e-marketing to give fee earners a reason for dialogue and therefore assist them in creating a situation where they are able to increase their understanding of their clients. In firms I’ve worked with, we have focussed all of our marketing effort to generate reasons to call. We have translated newspaper articles into reasons to call, as well as using conversations with clients and other e-marketing activities. Based on this experience, here are my top four e-marketing reasons to call:
Consecutive non-readership: Identify those newsletter subscribers who have not read the last three issues. Get fee earners who will be contributing to the next newsletter to call them to find out what topics would interest them.
Teaser click through: Identify those individuals that have clicked through a multiple number of times to an article. They have either forwarded the link or have re-referred to the article. You should call them – perhaps suggest you are looking to explore the area in more depth in future or want to understand whether it is an issue faced by them.
Undelivered emails: If you send an e-merge and get an undelivered email notification this can generate two calls. Assuming the email address is correctly typed, the bounce back is likely to be because the recipient has left. Fee earners may be able to call the individual to find out where they have gone to. If they have left the client, you can call their former colleagues to find out how things have changed for them and who has taken over the role.
Surveys: By using e-marketing to canvass clients, you can generate a reason to call. Ask them what they believe would be a useful topic in a future newsletter. Invariably, the response will not be detailed enough or there will be a number of angles you could take. Why not call and find out their perspective.
That’s (nearly) all folks… but don’t forget the credits. It is crucial to have the necessary reporting in place to identify conversations that have followed on from an integrated e-marketing initiative. Not only are there things you do almost free but you can prove they help generate revenue.
Published with permission from Legal Technology Insider http://www.legaltechnology.com