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Work on your relationships

This article appears in the issue September 2002 [Volume 11, Issue 8]


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"Relationship intelligence" is what the knowledge asset of accounting and business consulting firm Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain (LBMC) is called. The term refers to information that helps the firm enhance its cross-selling, business development and client service activities.

Prior to implementing new client relationship management software, the nearly 200 professionals in the firm had no convenient way to share information across the company's diverse practice groups. LBMC had knowledge about people, companies, relationships, experience and expertise that was difficult to make use of for competitive advantage.

"One group didn't know what the other group was doing," says Michael Cain, LBMC's managing partner. "We needed to leverage our collective knowledge and bring it under one database."

The firm, which provides traditional accounting and tax services, as well as such additional services as human resources staffing and investment and healthcare consulting, was struggling with numerous scattered systems. None offered the functionality that the firm needed, and juggling all the different software packages was more than employees could handle along with their other responsibilities.

Explains Cain, "Getting useful data into those systems required total, active participation by the professionals. That wasn't going to happen."

The firm decided to implement InterAction client relationship management software for professional services from Interface Software. The system is said to collect data passively by integrating with existing applications and incorporating information from those systems into a centralized knowledgebase. According to a recent press release from Interface, the software's Outlook synchronization module allows employees to use their familiar contact manager while automatically contributing updated information to InterAction's centralized database.

LBMC also needed a solution that would integrate financial data from its time and billing software, and the new solution accomplishes that, automatically harvesting data from other applications into the relationship intelligence database. That provides employees with a unified view of client and prospect relationships, which they can mine for business development purposes.

"It provides a centralized history of the client, from firm mailings to one-on-one interactions," says Leisa Gill, LBMC's marketing director.


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