CRM 2013

Managing Client Relationships The truth in profess

This is the fifth time that the Managing Partners’ Forum (MPF) and The Thriving Company, in association with the PM Forum, have surveyed CRM activities and results specific to professional firms. We’ve now got well over 1,000 contributions from firms during the life of this study. This represents the most robust set of data about CRM and managing client relationships in professional firms. Our aim is that this forms a key resource to those wishing to grow revenues, drive improved effectiveness and gain the strategic and financial benefits available.

This study also includes, for the first time, specific questions about using digital and social technologies for improving knowledge and messaging, and the adoption of CRM tools by fee earners.

This report provides a summary of some of the significant issues underpinning CRM performance. More detailed insight and feedback is available on a variety of aspects including more about the activities that are associated with success, and on the perceived contribution of specific consultants, software and systems. Details on how to access more insight can be found on the final page.

When reading this report, please bear in mind that while the adoption of technology is a useful support to programmes to better manage client relationships, it is not the only building block.

Key findings and observations

  • In general, the ability of professional firms to gain strategic and financial benefits from CRM activities seems to have stalled since 2011.
  • While a full 94% of firms report that they achieve at least some benefit, relatively few firms secure major, sustainable benefit across a range of strategic and financial outcomes. However, 14% (or 1 in 7) are achieving at least five of the ten key benefits measured, to a major degree. They are accessing major performance improvements. This suggests an opportunity is being missed by firms and their consultants and vendors.
  • Once again, the vast majority of firms (90%) expect to make investments this year. Just over a third of the study participants expect to change systems in that time period. And just under half expect to upgrade within the next three years. The question implied by the results of this study is “Is a change of system without a strategic plan to manage client relationships a good investment of time and money?”
  • Overall system functionality is no longer the most important factor when thinking about the choice of supplier. It has been supplanted by specialist CRM expertise and understanding.
  • We think there are opportunities for much better performance. Satisfaction with vendors and consultants is generally low. Strategic programme management disciplines (and key activities) are not in place for the majority of firms. This says to us that consultants and client firms need to think more strategically.
  • A key question for some firms and their consultants is “Is this an expensive/ glorified spreadsheet with a little bit of communications capability – or is the programme truly designed to help deliver value to clients and firms, help extend the relationships, and actually acquire clients – ie. does it generate substantial financial benefits?”
  • Firms continue to face challenges in improving user adoption across fee earners, and in exploiting synergies between CRM and social technologies.
  • The reported performance of third party systems/vendors remains extremely variable. However, at the aggregate level, third party systems and consultants receive much more positive ratings than in-house bespoke systems.
  • There are a number of specific ways in which peer professional services firms have found that they can drive the contribution from vendors and third parties forward. Further observations on what these results mean and the implications for firms is included in the summary and concluding comments.

Download the full report