Good customer relationship management boils down to two things:
- Delivering value, and;
- Communicating well
The good news is that Actionstep helps you do both of these. There is no single feature in Actionstep that allows you to achieve good CRM, but rather a combination of features and configuration options that work together to create a platform for good CRM. Automation is one part of the solution, and the other part is attitude and culture.
Whether you provide a product or a service the key to customer satisfaction is to provide that product or service:
- on time
- with the right quality
- at a fair price
Workflow is the key to providing your product or service on time and with the right quality. By setting up an appropriate set of steps, tasks and alerts for each work-stream you can ensure that every job follows the correct process and timing. Task due dates, Action priorities, and alerts will notify team members of where they need to focus their attention.
Actionstep cannot set a price for your products or services but it can provide you with the necessary information to reach the correct decision. By analyzing the Steps, Tasks, Time Records and expenses for each job, you can get good insight into what it costs you to produce each product or service, and from that you can set an appropriate margin to arrive at a fair retail price. Furthermore, by analyzing the workflow data you will often be able to find more efficient ways of doing things, which can reduce costs and allow you to either lower your prices and/or increase your margin.
Actionstep provides a wide range of features that make it easier to implement a top-quality communication plan:
- One of the simplest and most effective ways to improve client communications is to include an automatic email to the clients at each step-change in the workflow;
- Actionstep's document and email templates allow you to generate professional-looking, and accurate documents each time you communicate with your clients;
- Good recordkeeping allows you to instantly respond to client requests, and within each Action you will find the relevant File Notes, current Step, next Steps, related email, calendar appointments, Tasks, billing, and documents at your fingertips.
Workflow Setup for Good CRM
There are countless way you could approach setting up a suitable arrangement of workflows to achieve good CRM, however here are some suggestions. This strategy makes good use of the Related Actions feature, which allows you to separate the initial inquiry, ongoing client management, and various work-streams into different workflows but still linking them together for quick access and reporting purposes.
Initial Inquiry Workflow
The initial inquiry workflow deals with the first contact by a prospective client through to the decision on whether to enter into a formal engagement or not. In some businesses, like law firms, it is good practice not to refer to people who make inquiries as Clients until you have completed a conflict of interest check and formally engaged the prospects. Thus in the Initial Inquiry workflow the primary participant should be referred to as a Prospect.
Linking a Web-Form to the Initial Inquiry workflow is good practice.
This allows prospects to enter their information on your website (name, address, nature of inquiry, etc) and post this directly into Actionstep. After reviewing each submission, you can decide whether to create an Action, and if you do then all the submitted information is copied through to the Action, which prevents you having to re-key the information.
The workflow can be quite simple, for example:
- Qualify (conflict-of-interest checks, assess nature of inquiry, etc)
- Not Qualified
If you get to the Qualified Step, Actionstep can (if configured) automatically create a related Customer Relationship Action and copy the Prospect to the Client in the new Action.
Customer Relationship Workflow
This workflow should go through the Steps of getting the clients formally engaged (engagement letter, etc), and then remain on the Engaged step for the duration of your relationship with each client. You will use this workflow to record any notes, documents, and email messages about this client that are not related to any work you do for the client. When your relationship finally ends, you can follow the steps for an orderly disengagement (returning documents, final accounts, etc). Any work you perform for a client should be created as a related Action to the Client Relationship Action.
These workflows are what you do to create value for your clients and what they pay you for. Examples in law firms include: Litigation, Real Estate Settlement, and Estate Planning.
Actionstep allows you to offer your clients real-time access to their matters. Using Actionstep's sophisticated security features you can create a Client System Role that allows clients to login to Actionstep and see certain Actions where they are listed as the client. When they open these Actions you can further restrict what parts of the Action they can see, and what they can do on each screen. For example: you may not give them access to the File Notes but you might give them access to selected folders in the documents area. You could potentially create a folders called Client Upload which allows them to add documents to the Action and another one called Client Review which has read-only access.
CRM is a big topic and there is no single way of getting it right. However, Actionstep provides you with a wide variety of tools that, if used correctly, can significantly increase your CRM capability.