This article first appeared in the Jan ’13, Issue 4 of Modern Law Magazine.
Answer: Think through this common scenario … and then apply the same principles in other areas of your practice to evaluate the potential of IT to make you more competitive and improve your performance.
A client calls in to make a will. They appoint 2 executors, who will be their most trusted friends or relations (and perhaps also someone from your practice).
Do you know if anyone at your practice knows these two executors? Would you ask the testator if it would be helpful to send them some information about the responsibilities they are taking on? Do you have that available?
If you don’t already know them, should you ask the client if it’s ok to add them to your system to send out that information and invite them to opt into further contact in future? Can you invite them in for a chat to establish contact if they want to drop in (and send a timely reminder), to build up a better relationship with them so you understand their family’s legal needs?
What about their children and parents – can we do something for them? Will you stay in touch to offer that client and members of their family other services relevant to them, now we understand what they might need in the future?
To manage this requires simple but effective use of a user-friendly client relationship management (“CRM”) system to manage data and prompt activity, but this is just one area of how you operate that can be improved by effective use of IT.
This is not just about technology but also about the mindset and vision of the people who develop and use IT systems. Integrated, user-friendly and powerful solutions are readily available but require investment of intellect and time as well as money to produce more competitive business results; not just on relationships, but to deliver more for less and to operate more efficiently with more resilience and flexibility.
However, managing client relationships is critical. If you do not have a structured approach supported by technology, you can rest assured that others will. Those executors could well be your clients today … but gone tomorrow.