A firm’s success has a lot to do with the kind of service it’s able to provide to clients. But it’s not just the accountant that provides client service. Your clients’ experience is the result of interactions with all of your client-facing staff. And it may even be affected by processes and procedures taking place outside the client’s view. During the CCH Connections user conference last fall, we sat down with Sally McMichael, Client Services Manager at Clausen & Associates in Colorado to get her thoughts about how technology affects client service. The firm uses CCH Axcess, and she had a lot to say about how the technology has changed the way they work.
How has client service changed in the last few years?
“I think the biggest difference with client expectations over the last six or seven years is that they want everything quicker. They know that we have a lot more technology at hand, and they expect us to turn things around faster than we were able to when we were simply using paper and pen and pencil to do everything. They also expect us to have answers to their questions a lot quicker.”
How does CCH Axcess help your firm provide better client service?
“CCH Axcess allows us to service any level of client, whether they’re a simple 1040 client or a larger company with multiple needs. The project management software is efficient, everybody understands it, easy to use… The document management system allows us to save and archive everything that we need for any client whether that’s one document that they’ve submitted or hundreds or even thousands of documents. We can order it by year, we can order it by type of service for the client and track that project from beginning to end. From when it comes into the office until we deliver it to the client. And it also allows us to go back and assess how we service that client last year so that we can better service them this year.”
Prior to implementing CCH Axcess, what client service challenges were you trying to solve?
“Prior to using Workstream, we spent a lot of time running from office to office to find out where a tax return was, what the status of it was, and even what was needed for the client. If they called in and asked for a status on their return, [they wanted to know] is that going to be done today, tomorrow?”
Which features make the biggest impact on client service?
“One of the parts that I like the best is that we’re able to enter information about clients into the dashboard using Notes so that when they do call, or when they come in anybody in the office can access that information. They know where the client’s at, what they’re expecting, what their persona is, if anything’s happened with their family, or a recent event… We are able to speak to that directly to the client. It makes every day a little bit easier because everybody has access to the same information.”
Do your clients notice the difference that technology creates behind the scenes?
“Every single client feels like I know them really well because I have that information in front of me. I just keep it open all day long, and when a client calls in, I call up their name and I read quickly through the notes and I know what’s happening with them. For example, I know if they have a child that just entered school or if they just started a new business. I know if they have an ailing parent and they’re going to need some client services along that line. Or some of the luckier ones have just inherited a great deal of money and are going to be looking for advice and support with that.”
“I think it creates more of a family feeling with our clientele. And it also allows our staff members to feel more like a family, because everybody knows all of the same information about those clients.”
How does CCH Axcess make your firm more efficient?
“We enter all of our work into the program as it comes in, and it allows us to track all of the work as it goes through the office. It frees me up to take care of clients when they come in, because I’m not constantly trying to run down the projects that are in the office. It allows everybody to access the information that they need during the day from their desktop. They’re not calling each other or chatting each other up or coming out to ask me for advice on where things are, what the progress is.”
To learn more about client service, download our whitepaper, “Focus on the Client: Developing a Client-Centered Firm,”