Expert Opinion – How Do You Know If Your Firm is Client-Centric?
Tech-forward firms describe themselves as client-centric because they have an excellent staff who go out of their way to delight clients. This is all good, right?
Well, the staff part is excellent. You want staff who truly care about your clients. But what often holds a tech-forward firm back from being truly client-centric is that some of the systems they ask their clients to use were not designed with the client in mind. This can cause frustration, confusion, or worse, with clients.
So, why the disconnect? And what can firms do about this?
To understand the issue, firm owners first need to look at what clients are doing on a daily basis. Clients are always on the go, and they use their mobile phones for everything now.
They use delightful mobile banking apps to bypass going to the bank to deposit checks or transfer funds. They order food from their phones, buy tickets, research restaurants, send estimates to clients, pay bills, and even have remote doctor visits using a mobile app. Smartphones have become a vital part of their daily routine, and it’s the first place they go to get information or get something done.
So, if you want to be truly client-centric and give your clients Client Experience 2.0TM, you need to provide a similar delightful “on the go” experience for clients at your accounting firm. Keep your awesome team, but also make a plan to dump your non-delightful solutions and roll out client-facing software that does, in fact, delight clients and staff.
Questions you can ask yourself:
Is the software you ask your clients to use to send documents to you easy to use?
For example – do clients use your portal? And if they do use it, do they like it? How much staff time is spent on walking clients through using it or resetting passwords?
TIP: The best way to assess your portal’s ease of use is to look at the percentage of clients who actually use your portal. Then total up the times that they call you for help in using it. Even one tech support call means your portal is not client-friendly.
How many ways can clients get in touch with you?
There are probably a lot of ways, and each one has its drawbacks – documents get lost, staffs have too many places to check for documents, and conversation threads and no one can keep up.
How many clients want to text you? What do you do with the attachments they send via text? Last time we checked, it takes a lot of steps to get a document off of a text and into a document management solution, and what do you do with a photo of a document? It boggles.
TIP: To assess the issues with your current client communication methods, make a list of all the ways your clients are currently contacting you, and ask your staff what they like or don’t like about each method. Patterns will emerge, and you can evaluate which are the most egregious in terms of wasting staff time and not creating delight for clients.
If you primarily rely on email to contact clients, how is that working out for you and your staff?
How many extra steps does email cause you when trying to securely exchange sensitive documents with clients? And what about email as a whole? How do you separate the signal from the noise in your own inbox? And do clients respond?
To name just a few issues: clients ignore your emails, or they drop into spam folders. Clients delete important emails accidentally, or they just claim they never got them. And of course, once an email drops below the fold in anyone’s inbox, it’s like it never happened.
Lastly, email is not a safe way to transmit secure documents. It’s too easy for phishers and spammers to mimic your firm and send your clients a request for a sensitive document. Your systems should ensure this never happens.
What should you do?
To delight clients – look for a modern software solution that is mobile, easy to use, and allows them to communicate with you on the go. To delight staff, look for a solution that works alongside your current accounting and tax software and that doesn’t require you to “dump” all the solutions you love.
In a nutshell, your tech stack should simplify and streamline operations, adding delight at every step for BOTH clients and staff alike.
Liscio works alongside your accounting system and your permanent document storage and provides a streamlined place for your clients to contact you, exchange sensitive information, and get documents signed. It’s an “all in one” mobile app that clients love to use. It replaces email, texting, and other ways that clients used to get in touch with you.
The staff loves it because it cuts through all the noise. They have one place to go to see and action all client communications, and they can request documents and communicate with clients easily and transparently to the rest of the team.
Tasks can be created and tracked for each client communication. Nothing drops through the cracks and no more searching for documents that the firm either sent to or received from the client.
That’s Client Experience 2.0TM, and it’s within reach for even the smallest accounting firm.
About the Author:
Alison Ball is the Director of Marketing and Influencer Strategy for Liscio, Inc. Liscio solves the very real challenges that accountants and bookkeepers have with client communications. How do you make exchanging sensitive data and information with your clients delightful? Liscio does that just – everything in one place and designed to be secure and delightfully easy to use by clients on the go.
Before joining Liscio, Alison spent 15 years leading the accountant influencer programs and building QuickBooks communities at Intuit. In her spare time, she grows amazing backyard vegetables and loves hiking in the San Francisco Bay Area. She believes that life is too short to spend it with mean people, and any day she can help someone else be successful is a good day indeed.