At its most basic, Client (or Customer) Relationship Management (CRM) software could be described as a client contacts database, combined with a to-do list, and a calendar. But, when used right, it can be so much more. Good law firm CRM software gives you a systematic approach to maintaining and strengthening client relationships and trust. This is not just client intake, it’s an integral part of a comprehensive Legal Marketing plan.
CRMs help you manage your clients’ experience—from first meeting to last. And we all know a good client experience can help set you apart from the crowd (as can a bad one). These products, at their most basic level, allow you to set meetings, and manage contacts with potential clients. However, if you use them well, they’ll allow you to extract data so you can analyze your workflows, your relationships, and your success rate with new and current clients.
A good law firm CRM stores contact information (including legal needs), notes from previous interactions with each contact, and some biographical data about the client. With previous interactions tracked, you can engage on a more personal level, rather than playing catch-up for the first few minutes of each meeting. Many CRMs will also motivate you to be proactive in how you interact with your clients.
What’s the Difference between a CRM and Law Practice Management Software for Client Intake?
A CRM is different from law practice management software because most LPMS doesn’t really focus on client intake, client acquisition, or relationship management. A robust LPMS typically focuses on being more productive with existing clients and matters. Still, many LPMS have updates and features that start to feel more like CRM software.
In this Client Intake, CRM, & Marketing Automation Software portal you can compare features, read community reviews, get additional details, and find the best application for your law firm. If you see an Affinity Partner badge, it means Lawyerist Insiders are entitled to a discount. (Already a member? Log in here. If not, register here—it’s free!)
How Should I Select a CRM?
In selecting proper software, ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve with a law firm CRM?” If you’re unsure, take a look at your Marketing Plan (or create one using our Legal Marketing Guide). Don’t just grab software off the shelf and start using it. Plan, document your processes, and then determine what you need.
What features do you need in a law firm CRM?
If you don’t have CRM software, or the one you have doesn’t meet your needs, then ask yourself what features your firm would benefit from. Go back to that Marketing Plan and determine what you want to do. If you don’t know what features will accomplish that, yet, take a look at the Features list below. It should give you a good idea of what is out there.
Can I customize those features?
Once you find software that has the features you’re looking for, determine if you can customize those features to fit your needs? How difficult is it to make the law firm CRM fit your needs? Or, alternatively, does it come ready-to-use (or almost ready-to-use) right out of the box?
Is it easy to learn?
This matters in all kinds of ways. First, you’ll need to learn it yourself so you can get comfortable with it as a solution for your firm. And if you anticipate needing to train other people on the software, make sure you and your colleagues will have plenty of resources available. Comprehensive documentation should help you learn how to use your fancy new tool without too much issue. And if it is tricky to learn (and, probably, even if it isn’t), a good law firm CRM should offer free training.
Does it integrate with software you already use?
Does it integrate with your LPMS? What about your email, or your calendar? Processes can get really cumbersome if your new law firm CRM exists on a digital island. That means more things for you to download, transfer, and pay attention to. Integration with Office 365, or G Suite is often a extremely helpful, if not a necessity.
Try before you buy.
After you’ve narrowed down your choices, give them a test-run. Most have a free trial. When putting new law firm CRM software through its paces, see if it works by importing just a few contacts, rather than your entire client list. See if you like the interface and the experience with 30 clients first, before you try it with 3000.
Client Intake, CRM, & Marketing Automation Software (Alphabetical List)
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Use this Captorra review and pricing guide to decide if this is this intake and CRM technology is for your law firm. Learn more about Captorra
Review of Clio Grow law firm intake and CRM sofware, its suggested users, its pricing, and its integration with Clio Manage. Learn more about Clio Grow
Review of Freshsales CRM & marketing automation software. Learn more about Freshsales
Lawmatics is an advanced, law-firm focused CRM with an automated intake process, custom emails, and custom fields to help your client intake. Learn more about Lawmatics
Lexicata is a cloud-based CRM and intake software designed specifically to help attorneys automate their intake workflows. Learn more about Lexicata
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Client Intake, CRM, & Marketing Automation Software Feature Descriptions
Automated Workflows. A core feature of marketing automation software and many intake and CRM tools is the ability to automate workflows like follow-up emails after a potential client inquiry, pre-consult questionnaires, new client onboarding, and more.
Appointment Scheduling. With appointment scheduling, you can connect your calendar and let potential clients pick consultation slots right from your website.
Calendar Sync. Sync up your calendar so you can see associated appointments when viewing a potential client's record.
Email Templates. Building out your marketing workflows is quicker and easier if you have templates to work from.
Email Sync. Sync up your email account so you can see emails sent or received when viewing a potential client's record.
Text Messaging. While email is a fairly standard part of most software, your clients may prefer text messaging. If so, you'll want to keep track of them in your software so you can see your conversations associated with potential clients.
Document Templates. When it comes to intake questionnaires or engagement letters, a template can help get you up and running with your software more easily.
eSignatures. Allow clients to sign and return documents quickly, using their computer or phone—but not a printer.
Analytics. See reports like the number of clients in each stage of your marketing or intake process, or the return on investment from your various marketing investments.