CRM orphan contacts require care.
There is nothing sadder than a poor, lonely little orphan – especially in your CRM system. When an “orphan” record is left in your CRM system and all the attorneys who once knew the contact are gone, the record is essentially abandoned. It’s left alone in a CRM world where relationships are so very important.
So what is a CRM caretaker to do? Well, start by regularly keeping watch for the these abandoned orphan records. It’s rare for them to be left prominently on your CRM doorstep. Instead, you must go looking for them.
Seeing dead people in your CRM system?
Many of us may remember that chilling quote from the movie The Sixth Sense. Seeing dead people in your CRM system can be almost as disturbing. Nothing is more likely to cause your CRM users to tune out and turn off than finding deceased contacts living on in your system.
Even more disturbing, these contacts are often known by multiple people in your firm – yet not everyone may be aware that the person has passed. So when the contact is removed from a mailing or event list,
To ensure data quality, focus on these key areas: manage changes in the status of contacts, adopt “orphans” left behind by attorneys, input missing data, and gain full participation and adoption.
Part 1: Degrading Data Quality
In today’s highly mobile markets, up to 30% of a firm’s CRM contact data can degrade each year. People get hired, fired, promoted and change jobs; they move and change addresses; they get married and divorced; some retire and a few die. This means that if you don’t pay attention to data quality, your end users will begin to distrust the data and,
Are your people onboard with business development pipeline success? To ensure a successful outcome. the business development pipeline technology must first be supported at the highest leadership levels in the law firm. Next, there must be knowledgeable, well-trained people dedicated to inputting the data. Information has to be entered correctly, consistently and completely because bad data will undermine attorney trust. Additionally, resources have to be dedicated to ongoing data quality to ensure the data remains current over time, since up to 30% of a firm’s contact data can become outdated each year. Finally, there has to be a focus on system adoption.
Too often, firms are willing to spend money on a system but don’t budget for other essential resources. More important than the investment in the technology can be the time and human resources required for success. Dedicated CRM staffing is not only necessary, it is essential.
Data Quality Must Be Managed
For all firms, a CRM project manager will be beneficial during the rollout. Larger firms may also need a dedicated full- or part-time CRM manager for ongoing success. Data quality resources are also imperative, especially during the rollout when shared attorneys’ contacts flow into the system creating a significant number of duplicates.
While a CRM checkup may be the best preventative medicine, sometimes we just don’t want to get diagnosed. We put it off because we get busy or because we figure if we ignore the problem long enough, maybe it will go away on its own. But if you neglect your minor CRM problems or aches and pains for too long, you may find your overall CRM health to be deteriorating. At that point, you need to analyze just what the problem seems to be… where does it hurt?
Analyze CRM Problems and Seek Treatment
Are your clients and prospects having a reaction to the number of irrelevant communications the firm has been sending?
Nothing can be more frustrating than dealing with CRM data quality. But when it comes to CRM success, there are few things that are more important. While data quality tasks can seem monotonous and mundane, left ‘untreated’, a CRM database can rapidly deteriorate into a disaster, causing end users to doubt and distrust the data and refuse to use the system – and causing you to pull your hair out.
The First Step
The first step is admitting you have a problem – or lots of them. Your end users are out of control.
At Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to resist a few candy references. So, as the rollout progresses, you may think you have this CRM project licked. In fact, you may even start to think that sweet success is so close you can taste it. You’ve gotten the hard parts out of the way: The end users are on board. The installation is done. The invoice is paid. Now you think it’s all downhill from here, right?
Not always. What you may not have considered is that as more and more users are rolled out, all the new information pouring into the system can actually gum things up.
In the past, you may have heard stories about CRM failures, disasters and unmet expectations. CRM has been branded as an over-hyped, overpriced technology with poor adoption and little or no ROI. It’s rotten to the core. In fact, some people have even proclaimed that CRM is dead.
In reality, CRM success is more of an apple and tree issue. It’s way too easy to blame CRM failure on the technology. Usually when CRM fails to meet expectations, the problem is not about the technology at all. It’s about the expectations:
- Firms install CRM systems and suddenly expect them to solve world hunger – or at least help to feed all the hungry associates and other attorneys who need more work but have been unable or unwilling to focus on business development.
It doesn’t matter how you end up getting into the CRM pool. Whether you step, walk, jump, dive or even belly-flop into the water, once you are there it’s sink or swim. Soon after you’ve taken the plunge, it suddenly becomes very important to find a way to stay afloat. Once you have made the CRM investment, you’re committed, for a lot of reasons. (By the way, if you haven’t yet done these CRM basics, you need to – right away.)
- You’ve spent a lot of time, money and, often, credibility.
- You’ve convinced the firm of the importance of purchasing a system.
So what do you do if you feel like you are drowning in CRM data quality problems and you just can’t seem to get help from within your firm – or if you don’t have months to spend manually cleaning and deduplicating your data?
One solution is to pay a data quality company to clean and deduplicate your data. During this process, data is typically matched up electronically against a postal database to append and standardize mailing addresses. The output generated is typically a very large spreadsheet of potential duplicate matches, which then must be manually reviewed and validated by someone on your team.
So how big a problem is data quality depression really?
In the past, some firms neglected CRM data quality as a minor issue – to their detriment. In fact, poor data quality can become a serious problem, especially during an initial rollout because the attorneys can quickly lose confidence in the system if the data is a mess. After all, attorneys are trained to find fault – and when they do, they may jump to the conclusion that if the data is bad, the system is not trustworthy. Then adoption and usage will stall.
Ultimately, at some point, you may realize that getting help for data quality depression is essential. Once a firm reaches a certain size, often around 100 users, a part-time data steward just can’t keep up with the volume of data changes in most cases. Larger firms will likely require a full-time data steward. And as a firm reaches the 250 user mark, even one dedicated data steward might not be able to do the job alone.
People Move, Change Companies, Get Promoted ….and Data Quality Degrades
The reason that data quality resources are necessary is that,
When it comes to data quality depression, it’s important to know that you aren’t alone. There are literally hundreds of firms struggling with the same frustrations and issues. Often, the best thing you can do is to reach out for assistance.
Internal Resources Can Help with Data Quality Tasks
Frequently, help is closer than you think. In fact, you can often find relief within your own firm. There are plenty of people with the right skills and, more importantly, some additional bandwidth, who may be able to assist you with recurring data quality tasks. Good potential candidates include secretaries,
If your data quality depression doesn’t seem to be responding to conventional treatments, fortunately there are now some alternative treatments available. One treatment that has been particularly effective for some firms is outsourcing.
If you aren’t able to hire full-time or permanent data quality resources, there are now outsourced professionals available who can help you to get a handle on your CRM data on a part-time or even full-time basis. For a very reasonable hourly rate, these professionals can assist your firm with individual projects – or even serve as full-time permanent data stewards.