Dear Santa

Do you remember all those years ago, when I wrote and asked you for a bicycle when I was only ten years old?  I was so proud of that bike with the bright red paint, the leather seat and the shiny bell.

Time’s moved on since then.  I’m now the Managing Partner of a major global law firm.  We’ve just merged with another firm and we’re still trying to get to grips with the culture, processes and systems of the newly combined firm.

However some things never change, I still need to ask for your help. I know how busy you are at this time of year, but I have a request this Holiday season and I wasn’t sure who I could ask.

All of us at the firm are spending every night working on our Holiday card lists.  As I write it’s nearly midnight and I’m sitting at the office watching the snow come down and yet there’s also white all around me, I’m surrounded by  pages and pages of database print outs, as I mark up my lists.  It’s driving me to despair. It’s the same every year.

Our marketing team have asked me to fill in the gaps in my contact data and supply the names of additional people to whom I would like to send cards.  I’d really hoped it would be different this year as we’ve invested an awful lot of money on a CRM system.

But this Holiday Season it’s really been brought home to me that without a properly defined strategy for defining what data is important and relevant – and a plan for keeping it up-to-date –  we’re not a great deal further forward.  We thought that buying a piece of technology would mean we had a CRM strategy, but it’s clear that’s not the case.

When we bought the system we had hoped that bringing all our contact lists together into one place would be enough, but now I realise that buying the right system, was only the beginning.  We really need to allocate resources every year to keep the system working at optimum performance.

We must all also do our bit by ensuring that we add and amend our contact information on a regular basis and contribute to the system by identifying what information is important to the firm to maintain.

A CRM system has so much potential but collectively as a firm we have to understand that maintaining the contacts is only one part of it.  If we’re ever going to derive any value from CRM we have to capture information about the people we know, the meetings we have and really valuable information about our clients that can help us grow our business.  Let’s be honest, times are pretty tough at the moment and managing strong relationships with existing clients is incredibly important.

Whilst I’m asking for things could you send me a deduplication elf?

I’m sure I must be sending Holiday cards to many of the same people as my colleagues.   Last year was just so embarrassing, the Managing Director at one of our most important clients got 5 Holiday cards from the firm and his address details were different on all of them! And none of them were right!

Oh dear, this is turning into a long wish list, but as a professional firm,  presenting a highly polished image to the outside world is vital. What confidence will our clients have in our attention to detail if we can’t even spell their names right!

We really need to prioritise what information might be useful to support us in our every day work.  You, of course, are an expert in prioritisation and database management.  You keep a record of the name and address of every child in the world andyou have to deliver to their homes all in one night.  We could do with some help in this respect, so could we borrow Rudolph to quickly whip round all our clients and drop off their cards?  That’s providing we can identify who our clients are of course!

It seems to me that maybe our database is a bit like my shiny red bike.  I really wanted a bike because everyone else had one, and the fact that it was shiny and red, and had all the bells and whistles seemed at the time to be the most important thing.  But now I come to think about it, my bike wasn’t much good to me until I had learned to ride it.

So Santa, I hope I’m not asking for too much, and you can find me some database marketing elves, otherwise at this rate, I’m still going to be here on New Year’s Day.   And I promise if you can help me, my New Year’s resolutions will be:

  • To get commitment from my colleagues to support CRM
  • To make sure my colleagues share information with each other
  • To commit budget to maintaining our data, which is after all one of our most important assets in this increasingly volatile time.

Yours hopefully

Brad

PS – I hear those people at Stanton Allen can help us sort out our CRM strategy and data like they’ve helped so many other professional services firms.