Don’t shy away from measuring success

I was reminded of a very important point when speaking at an event last week, and reviewing the results of the “Client Relationship Management – The truth in professional services” benchmark study.

This is that only 28% of firms covered said they made serious efforts in setting success measures for their CRM programmes and activity.  The setting of success measures was one of the factors which had the highest association with gaining real benefit from CRM. So,  if you’re in one of the 72% of firms that don’t do this, its worth rethinking for a variety of reasons – including:

  • Defining success criteria makes any CRM strategy or vision real – it determines what is important and makes people think and focus on how to achieve that.  Lacking measures of success just leaves any CRM vision as a nice description of a wish list
  • A set of success criteria keeps momentum going.  This is particularly so when allied to milestones and an effective plan (not just of tasks but of outcomes).  It gains ongoing commitment.
  • Effectively engaging with senior stakeholders in a firm on measures of success, and demonstrating you are serious, often gains a greater level of ongoing support.
  • It drives real focus and reduces the real risk of “success being declared” as soon as fee earners can access “the new system” – which of course is just part of the deal.
  • It encourages accountability from all those who should be engaged in making CRM work in a firm.

At the same time of course, there can be reluctance to commit by any of us in marketing or IT who are centrally concerned with CRM programmes. Does putting our heads above the parapet in this way consign us to greater risk?

Well, no, not really.  Not putting metrics in makes it much less likely that the CRM effort will succeed and be seen as a success by the firm.  The outcome will be pretty clear to most even if not formally measured by metrics.  Conversely, using metrics to show leadership and accountability for success will improve the overall result – for the firm as a whole and those centrally engaged in the effort.


  1. What metrics have professional firms found to be the most useful?

  2. Hi Lianne. I’ve noted some examples of metrics successfully used by professional services firms below.

    They have all been valuable but I think one key point is that the metric has to be meaningful for the firm’s own vision, strategy and objectives. The metrics shown below also operate at different levels, e.g. overall/strategic, drilling down into operational (e.g. quality of data on the database).

    Examples of overall, client facing metrics used are:
    – proportion of clients seeing the firm as the lead advisor
    – average satisfaction score from clients (for firm as a whole and individual partners)
    – improvement in satisfaction score
    – differential in satisfaction score between firm and competitors
    – referral rates

    Some firms also include staff satisfaction and turnover as key metrics, based on the “happy people leads to happy clients” thinking.

    But as you drill down firms also review the effective working of their tools and processes, e.g:
    – how many emails are undeliverable
    – how many meetings with key clients have been held
    – (scored) quality of information provided on key accounts

    In the latter case some also review overall levels of risk with key accounts by reference to volume of meetings held and number of relationships with key decision makers.

    Finally, there are some other key aspects of successful metrics (as well as the “SMART” formula). Programmes must include metrics which are:
    – Relevant to strategy/vision and linked to values
    – Important, measureable and influenceable (otherwise why include them? )
    – Driven by feedback from clients, and focused on what is important to clients
    – Equitable, so employees accept them and view them as fair
    – Communicated and visible (to drive changes in behaviour).

    A long answer, but I hope it helps!

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