Data Decay and CRM

Why is Now the Best time to get a CRM?

We’ve all heard terms such as the “great resignation”, “great attrition” and others. Clearly with the widespread furloughs, hybrid and remote jobs, a lot of people were thrust into unexpected situations and or granted a lot of time and opportunity to reevaluate their positions and employers. In short, the situation has led to unprecedented amount of data decay and presents a great time to get a CRM in place if your firm doesn’t have one already.

What is Data Decay?

Data decay is the inevitable fact that contact databases gradually lose their validity over time. Whether it’s by people changing addresses, jobs, marrying or for other reasons. Various percentage rates are expected given the industry; some estimate a loss rate as high as 30% per year while one estimate has the pandemic pushing it to as high as 37.5%.  That kind of data loss quickly makes unmaintained databases a huge problem.

The legal field especially has undergone a tremendous resorting that presents a lot of work for data management experts and stewards to sift through to clean up firm contact databases if they haven’t kept on top of the process. It’s also a compelling reason to fix this issue now as the rapid job changing seems to be undergoing a slowdown.

Why now Especially?

Typically, when implementing a CRM there will be a data house cleaning process that can take some effort. However once completed only regular maintenance will be necessary to keep accruing the benefits of better contact management. Even if a firm decides to switch to a different system later, that initial effort won’t be wasted as a lot of mistakes and inconsistencies will be eliminated.

A legal CRM can greatly help in finding errors both large and small. It is a great challenge to have accurate data and to correct mistakes if you don’t have a good framework to make those errors easily visible. With a CRM implemented, redundant information and erroneous contacts can be purged from attorney’s individual lists and centrally managed within a new intelligent firm-wide contact history. “Small” errors such as mistaken spellings can be identified, and the possible poisoning of client/ prospect relationships avoided, where embarrassing slip-ups could indicate a lack of concern or competence. For example, getting the details of a name wrong in an email could be compared to the effect of having a name grossly mispronounced in-person by someone who should know it. Those types of incidents aren’t very confidence inspiring. Allowing those same “Little” mistakes through data slippage will gradually ruin the effectiveness of email marketing and outreach as well if only by having emails not reach their intended recipients.

All job shifting however doesn’t need to be a burden. It can also present new opportunities with people who should be reached out to because of exciting changes occurring in their life.

Email Scraping

Many legal CRMs today include advanced email signature scraping capabilities that can capture new and changed contact information with sophistication. Email signatures are commonly used in the professional world, and they can be actively monitored by the CRM and checked against the database for changes or errors.  Once all the contact information is fed into the CRM system it can be used to provide visual reports for marketing campaigns and opportunity tracking. Privacy protections however will continue to present obstacles to automatic data collection even as much as our data seems to pop up everywhere without our consent. In the professional world though, follow-up is expected, and high levels of service and relationships benefit from a CRM in order to avoid using out of date information.

Unburden and refocus

As we like to emphasize; although discovering and preventing contact errors and fixing them isn’t as exciting as developing new outreach strategies it’s importance cannot be overstated. Without a legal CRM many other opportunities can still be pursued such as partnerships, google ads etc. to fuel revenue, but it would be equivalent to neglecting the low hanging fruit by not managing follow ups efficiently. It’s well known that in law particularly most business comes from existing clients and referrals from those clients. Having CRM system and CRM best practices in place is an important underlying technology for providing excellent service for a firm that causes it to grow organically.

With a CRM it’s easier to find opportunities to re-connect with someone who may have a landed a better job. That’s a perfect opportunity to congratulate them on their success and discover what may be worth reconnecting over. Good Connections are valuable, and they don’t disappear when a person changes jobs. Hard work, skills and character still stand out and it would be a mistake to only attach a person to their job title rather than their qualities and potential. A legal CRM can help with identifying those contacts you need to maintain beyond their organizational identity.

Plato referred to a statement by Heraclitus with the following comment “All things pass and nothing stays” and comparing existing things to the flow of a river, he says “you could not step twice into the same river.”

Having a CRM in place can keep staying on top of job changers much easier. “Data Decay” is really nothing more than the truism that things change. Opportunities run out and time isn’t recoverable, with a legal CRM though a substantial amount more of that time can be directed to positive ends rather than managing data slippage.