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Using CRM to Manage Law Firm Referral Relationships

by Sarah Friedlander Garcia on June 7, 2017

5 minute read

For law firms, referrals are the essential first step toward landing new clients. One satisfied customer can send friends, family members, and associates to your law firm for years, and that message is amplified in a social media era. When combined with the potential clients that fellow professionals send your way, these referrals can do most of your marketing work for you.

Once those referrals come your way, though, it’s imperative that you provide a top-quality customer service experience. If you disappoint, you’ll find eventually your referrals begin drying up. When a referred client is happy with the services you provide, they’ll be more likely to report back to the person who told them about you, further strengthening your relationship.

Managing referrals can be complicated, though. Attorneys are often balancing consultations and existing cases, which means that small details can fall through the cracks. Through automation, however, law firms can put a system in place that allows them to seamlessly manage all their client relationships.

Relationship Management for Law Firms

Contact management is the foundation of building and managing customer relationships. Before you can provide great service to clients, you first need to capture their information and make it accessible to every employee who might interact with them. Today’s law firms rely heavily on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, which not only capture customer information but add on a variety of tools that make it easier to provide great customer service.

Tools like Sugar (by SugarCRM) follow the client relationship from the time someone first contacts a law firm to the day the case closes and beyond. Instead of merely capturing names and addresses, attorneys, paralegals, and administrative staff have access to information about each customer, including a communication history and a list of the people they’ve contacted most often. If a minimum number of days has passed without getting in touch, legal professionals can find this information in a CRM tool, as well.

New Client Onboarding

From the initial contact, it’s important that your team have the tools necessary to gracefully transition a new client into your environment. Even the most professional staff won’t impress if the second time a client calls or visits your office, everyone is confused. Sugar includes Process Definitions that let firms set up workflows that automate client onboarding.

With Process Definitions, when a potential client calls, the system will automatically direct the employee to gather basic information and set an appointment for a consultation. During the consultation, if the new client decides to move forward, the system can be set up to move to the next phase of your new client onboarding process, such as offering a retainer and, if that’s accepted, moving to the non-disclosure agreement phase. With a workflow in place, employees are less likely to miss a step, since the system will automatically move to the next stage based on their input.

Relationship Tracking

CRM reduces duplicate entry while also giving employees access to a client’s history with a firm. Sugar also includes referral tracking, which lets firms track all their referrals, eventually making it easier to identify a client’s likelihood of referring to someone else. Once enough of these referrals are in the system, the CRM will keep an ongoing list of a firm’s top referral sources to allow them to spend more time nurturing those clients.

Through CRM, employees can also send emails to a large group of related clients at once. This makes it easier to show appreciation for referrals, invite top clients to certain events, or simply send a welcome email to everyone who has recently signed on with your firm to handle their case. With these tools in place, your firm will find it easier to nurture your client relationships and encourage loyalty.

CRM solutions equip law firms with the tools necessary to create long-lasting relationships with clients. Long after a case is complete, firms with good customer service will find that satisfied clients send multiple new customers their way. Best of all, CRM makes work easier for legal professionals, reducing data entry and giving them the information they need to create a good customer service experience for every client.