The benefits of CRM for Professional Service Firms
Manage cross-selling, compliance, client knowledge and automate tasks
A CRM is a customer relationship management solution that enables a company to manage the data (client profile, past transactions, communication via email, telephone and social media, etc) relating to each of its customers in an easily retrievable manner.
CRM solutions are powerful tools that enable professional service organisations (PSOs) such as law or accountancy firms to leverage their most important asset – their relationship with their clients. After all, the closer the relationships built with clients, the better these firms can serve their needs and the higher the chances of repeat business and referrals.
It is important to keep in mind that PSOs operate very differently to corporate entities that have specific goods or straightforward services to sell to a mass market. A PSO sells the skills and expertise of highly skilled professionals, and each engagement is usually unique and tailored specifically to the needs of the client.
Furthermore, businesses selling discrete products and services usually employ salespeople who are responsible for the sales process, and use mass-market marketing techniques. On the other hand, PSOs usually depend on their skilled professionals to network and bring in business. The people who are offering the service are the ones who are responsible to make the sale, which usually hinges on the strength of the one-to-one relationship built between the professional and the prospective client.
When a PSO is still small, its member professionals are able to communicate about clients and projects face-to-face, either through formal meetings or when bumping into each other in the corridor. As the firm grows, however, the effectiveness of such interaction decreases and it becomes increasingly difficult for everyone to keep abreast of all client contacts, leads and ongoing projects. When this happens, it becomes critical to implement a CRM system in order to supplement the human network with a technology infrastructure that ensures that everyone is in the loop and potential synergies identified.
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Identifying opportunities to cross sell
Professional Service firms sell the skills and knowledge of its experts, and these fluctuate as the firm grows, either through recruitment or through mergers and acquisitions. This means that it is very important to be able to take a birds-eye view of the firm’s clientele in order to be able to identify client needs that match the newly available skillsets and which could potentially generate new business.
A well-planned CRM can therefore become an important strategic tool for the firm as it identifies future avenues of growth and areas where it makes sense to invest.
Retaining client knowledge when professionals leave
A key characteristic of PSOs is that the professionals who make up the firm build strong networks of contacts that they then leverage to win new business. This becomes problematic when someone leaves the firm, since there is a danger that the entire network is lost. When this happens, having a CRM can make all the difference. Details regarding client profile, contacts, past transactions, notes regarding conversations and easy access to email threads are fundamental when picking up the mantle after a professional leaves the firm.
One of the biggest headaches facing PSOs is compliance, with firms having to deal with regulations relating to anti-money laundering (AML), know your client (KYC) and data management (GDPR).
Top CRM solutions such as Salesforce make keeping up with such key regulatory requirements relatively straightforward, with built-in functionality enabling firms to record compliance in an intuitive but completely secure way. Users are able to scan and attach important documents to AML records, making KYC proof readily available on demand. Obviously, this data is stored in a secure manner with restricted access on a need-to-know basis.
GDPR imposes strict requirements on how firms can store and manage client data – in other words the type of data stored in a CRM system. Good CRM systems have evolved to put users in full control of the data, with full transparency about how it is used. It is therefore possible to keep track of the source of the data and why it is being held. In addition, the CRM solution keeps track of when the data is first created, enabling users to make sure that it is not kept longer than necessary. The CRM also greatly facilitates erasing data if a client requests their “Right to be forgotten”.
Automation of repetitive and time-consuming tasks
There are many tasks that are crucial to foster good client relations that are somewhat repetitive and therefore subject to human error. Examples include sending out texts or emails to remind clients about appointments, or contacting clients on an annual basis to request updated documents to maintain KYC.
CRM solutions can be used to automate such tasks, ensuring that they are done on time and to a high level of accuracy. Receiving timely reminders and communication will strengthen the client’s faith in the efficiency of the firm and foster a strong relationship based on trust.
In conclusion, a good CRM becomes the central repository of the collective client wisdom of PSOs, enabling firms to control their client relationships and leverage them for growth.
Deloitte is a leading global strategic partner of Salesforce, the world’s #1 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, and is passionate and focused on helping clients tackle their most complex challenges with Salesforce technology. Salesforce offers cloud-based applications for sales, service and marketing for small, midsize and enterprise organisations, with a focus on sales and support. Deloitte Digital and Salesforce can redefine your connection with customers, suppliers and partners to inspire engagement, preference, and brand loyalty. Our network of member firms work with forward-thinking companies to reimagine and build solutions across every step of the customer journey.