Chris Farrell, CPA
As we round out 2020 and look to 2021, top-performing firms are assessing their operations with new goals in sight – to improve operational performance for staff, and to delight clients in the process. This guide is designed to help you understand the key trends and assess how your firm stacks up in terms of the experience you are offering your clients.
The key is to look at what clients are doing in their day-to-day activities, and then meet them where they are. Clients love this, however there is an additional benefit for staff as well – firms that are offering Client Experience 2.0tm, (a technology + mindset solution) also find that they are more productive, less stressed, and that client loyalty and retention goes up as well.
Let’s explore the trends and how you can apply them in your firm, easily and affordably.
Seamless Online Experiences are Becoming the Norm
Clients are online, on-the-go, and accustomed to seamlessly moving between computer, tablet, and smartphone. As they move from touchpoint to touchpoint, firms need to make sure that the experience is as EASY and convenient as everything else clients are doing in their digital personal lives — from one-click shopping, to telemedicine, to checking their bank balance and depositing checks.
To assess how your firm is performing, try these Self Assessment questions:
- Are clients asking to text you?
- Are clients resisting adopting client portals / secure document exchange systems?
- Are you having to provide technical support for the solutions you offer?
Even one “yes” answer signals that your clients aren’t as happy as they’d like to be when it comes to doing business with your firm. And it’s causing more steps for you, too. Your existing tech stack is putting barriers between you and your clients. A wrench in the gears if you will. Luckily it’s not unsolvable!
Creating the right experience for clients, and for staff
To bridge the gap between clients’ natural behavior and the firm’s need for organization, security, and transparency, top-performing firms are offering a combination of native mobile apps and modern browser experiences that meet clients where they are and delight their socks off.
Simplicity and Completeness Wins
Less is more when technology is client facing, and this applies to accounting and bookkeeping firms as well. Top brands make sure that clients can access everything they need in a single, easy-to-use place. The Kayak travel app is a great example. Clients can search and book their Hotel, Flight, and Rental Car in a single experience. This level of all-in-one convenience keeps clients coming back for more. Accountants and Bookkeepers stand to benefit from keeping client attention in one place instead of forcing them to juggle multiple ways to securely send and receive information from you. Imagine what your day would look like if you no longer had to chase clients for documents, or search in multiple places for information they said they sent you?
Use the following Self Assessment questions to see how your firm is doing:
- How many communication methods are you using with clients? Examples include client portal, secure file exchange solution, electronic signature site, client messaging app, text messaging, email, etc. Make a list, and add them up.
- Are your clients able to find documents and communications from you, or, are they calling you to resend information?
More than one or two communication venues is too much for most clients to juggle, and it has the knock-on effect of draining firm productivity as well when staff have to search multiple places to find answers and documents that clients say they have sent.
Security is a Top Priority
Great security habits never go out of style. In fact, as more and more work moves online, cybersecurity emerges as a top business risk for firms of all sizes. The goal is to put your employees AND your clients in a system that minimizes security risks while maintaining simplicity and convenience. Online banks set the standard. Their secure, invitation-only, all-in-one apps are delightfully secure. You can have the same level of security in your firm, if you choose the right methods to share sensitive data with your clients.
How does your security stance stack up?
- Are clients sending private information such as passwords, EINs, and SSNs over insecure channels such as email and text messages?
- Is your company storing client password and login information in an unencrypted database?
- Do firm members share log-ins to any of your systems?
A “yes” answer to any of the above questions indicates that your firm is using systems and methodologies that increase firm risk and fall short of industry best practices.
Work from Anywhere
If work-from-home/anywhere is part of your 2021 game plan then you’ll want to keep your eye on communication transparency. Great client service teams keep everything they need right at their fingertips. This includes client communication history, internal client notes, and the status of client-facing tasks. This allows them to answer client questions on the first call and stay on top of issues without letting anything fall through the cracks. With more people working remotely, good systems and processes are absolutely essential.
Here are a few self-assessment questions to help you see where you fall in terms of firm transparency and staff knowledge across shared clients:
- Do staff often need to check multiple systems or places to catch up on the status of a client? Email, text messaging, client file exchange, electronic signature platform, and note-taking software are typical information silos.
- Is your email full of cc’s and bcc’s from staff trying to keep you in the loop?
- Are your staff asking each other for updates on clients because the information they need isn’t available to them?
- Do clients have to wait longer for responses as a result?
- Have you ever asked a client for a document that they had already sent to a different staff member?
A “yes” answer to any of the questions above indicates that your firm may be struggling with transparency and status visibility across shared clients.
Help is at Hand, and it is EASY and AFFORDABLE
We have found that tech-forward firms like yours are ready for a simpler, more streamlined system to securely share sensitive information and communications with clients. The benefits are immense – clients LOVE to have one simple place to contact you and that it’s available on their mobile phone. They can send documents quickly and easily, and can see your answers to their questions. You can share key documents with your clients, securely, from ANY system you can print to a PDF. Your clients receive it on their app instantly, instead of having to go to your portal and struggle to log in and find it. And, staff have complete transparency across shared clients. It’s called Client Experience 2.0TM and it’s available now, with Liscio.
How did your self assessments turn out? Are you satisfied with where you are or would you like to level up? If you would like to join the top 5% of firms who have made the move to Client Experience 2.0TM in their firms, we can help.
At Liscio, we empower professional services firms of all sizes to put their clients first. If you’re ready to rock 2021 with the modern client experience that your clients deserve and your staff will love, Liscio is the perfect solution.
Schedule a free no-obligation consultation here.
Our staff are really nice humans who can make your transition to Client Experience 2.0TM absolutely painless and we have tons of references from happy firms who have done it and are delighted, just in case you need additional assurance..