Signs You Need a New Approach to Exchanging Files with Clients

Technology has changed a lot of your day to day interactions, and as it continues to evolve how you communicate, some firms struggle to keep up. For example, client portals have been around for over a decade, and while many firms have implemented them, a large percentage of firms have not. A few firms have limited use of portals but still rely on more traditional communication strategies. Do you need a portal? If you find that any of the below warning signs apply to your firm, it may be time to re-evaluate your approach to portals:

  • You and your clients email files back and forth, or even worse, mail hard copies.
    Emailing files back and forth with clients is not secure, and it also creates multiple versions of the same file. Using a portal ensures you are always looking at the most recent version of a document. You can even use version control features to preserve old versions of the file in case you need to back-track.
  • Your clients call and email at all hours and on the weekends, asking for their documents.
    Many clients have come to expect instant access to their documents, wherever they are. If you don’t want to be on call 24/7, and you don’t want to make your clients wait, giving them on-demand access to their own files will make everyone happy. Portals make great long-term storage spaces for clients’ financial documents. Just make sure your portal is accessible from all kinds of devices – whether your clients use PCs or Macs; desktop computers, laptops, tablets or phones.
  • A few of your clients use portals, but most do not.
    The most effective way to encourage portal use throughout your firm is to create portals for all of your clients. Setting up individual portals on demand can be time-consuming and risks making portal usage the exception rather than the standard means of exchanging files with your clients. Batch processing can make this process easier, by letting you create portals for all your clients at one time. Even if you allow clients to opt-out of using a portal, most clients will not opt-out.
  • Your clients have portals, but they don’t use them.
    Some firms have implemented portals only to find that their clients don’t use them. If you’ve created portals for all of your clients, you need to make sure your clients know about their portal. Make sure portals are easy to access by providing a link from your firm’s website. In addition, portals can be set up to send automatic notifications for a variety of events. These emails can be customized and re-sent as needed when a client needs help or needs a reminder. Portals should be relatively intuitive, but a simple client-facing user manual can help clients who are having trouble.
  • Your clients want portals, but your staff forgets to use them.
    If your staff isn’t using portals, your clients certainly won’t either. Make portal usage part of their everyday workflows so publishing files to the portal becomes second nature. Portals aren’t just for collecting and delivering tax documents. Tax returns, financial reports, audit materials and invoices should all route to the portal. This will help with portal adoption for your firm’s staff as well as your clients.

Don’t struggle with implementing portals in your firm. Download our whitepaper, 7 Secrets to Portal Success for tips on a successful implementation.

AUTHOR

Aimee Hall

Product Marketing Manager at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting

All stories by: Aimee Hall
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