In this the final of this brief series of articles on how CRM has to start breaking out of its silo to see what’s going on elsewhere in the firm, I’m going to consider perhaps the most important question of all.

Are you ready for what you find when you do start to look at the rest of the firm, particularly when it comes to implementing the necessary changes to manage a major change or even worse, a crisis.

My first experience of the direct impact that a crisis can have on a firm’s CRM programme was with Arthur Andersen.  At the time of the Enron crisis we were working with the firm to establish a CRM system.

We didn’t get a great deal of interest and enthusiasm from the partnership, the firm still had a very “list-centric” mentality.

However, as soon as it became clear that we needed to communicate with key clients daily in a co-ordinated fashion, contact lists and relationships came flooding in.   The message is clear though – we should have been in that position way before the crisis hit the press.

The critical point to make when it comes to managing the huge complexities of firm mergers (or any other significant change), is that the board will have a great many other things that they have to worry about:  due diligence; the vesting of the new entity; achieving partner buy-in.

The last thing that they are going to be thinking about is how well will Business Development rise to the challenges of managing client facing systems and processes, but in many respects, it’s actually one of the most important things to get right.

It’s not clear to what extent firms are gearing up to the challenges that I’ve discussed in this article.   When it comes to the preparation for merging with other firms is there really anything specific you can do?    My argument is yes you can.

Irrespective of what the future holds for your firm the fundamental principles of good client relationship management should always apply, whatever the situation.

  • Be clear about the key audiences with which you communicate
  • Understand what their requirements are and how the firm proposes to deliver them
  • Have a clear definition of how your CRM system can specifically support the firm’s client relationship objectives
  • Focus your data management processes on those things that genuinely add value
  • Understand the flow of information throughout the firm, not just within the confines of the CRM system
  • Keep it simple – if something appears to be too complicated to be worth the effort then it probably isn’t worth the effort!
  • Have you got a list of your top clients!!

In summary my point is that whilst you can’t predict the future, you shouldn’t wait for a crisis to happen before working out what your crisis management policies are.

In the next in this series of blogs I’m going to look at some of the other key issues facing firms including:

  • implementing an effective segmentation strategy
  • internationalisation and managing data in multiple languages
  • data privacy and the implications that global data protection legislation will have
  • referral management

Please keep reading, follow us on Twitter or contact us for more information.