No matter how much expertise you’ve developed over the years, the quality of service you provide clients makes the most lasting impression. Especially in the age of social media, word of mouth and client referrals are critically important. That’s why firms are looking for new ways to improve client relationships. In Part 3 of the Firm Operations Series of webinars with CPA Practice Advisor, Wolters Kluwer Senior Strategic Relationships Manager Brian Siet discussed “Transforming Client Service” with Firm Administrator Ginny Fedrich of HBLA CPAs.
The discussion covered a number of strategies and ideas that firms can use to improve client relationships. It also touched on how technology can help. The webinar identified 4 ways technology can enable firms to provide better client service, with a total of 8 examples of real-world technology that can help.
Anticipate Client Needs
Client needs are changing quickly. As commoditization drives fees for compliance services down, firms can add more value (and justify higher fees) by being more proactive.
- Predictive Intelligence. Using technology, firms can identify which clients are affected by a given tax regulatory or legislative change. With this information, business development efforts take much less time. You’ll no longer need to scour news sources and sift through client files to find a good match. The information will be available with the click of a button.
- Business Intelligence. Data visualizations can help firms better understand the massive amounts of client data in their firms. Business intelligence tools don’t just help firms work more efficiently. They can help firms spot patterns and identify trends so they can improve client relationships.
Manage Client Data
With so much data moving through a firm’s systems, errors are common and finding what you need can be difficult. Technology tools can help close the loop on your data, which makes the client experience more seamless as well.
- Data Integration. Firms will want to reduce the number of databases that store client and firm information. By choosing a database of record and using APIs to connect various programs and apps, firms can reduce data entry and minimize redundant data. A system in the cloud makes this kind of data integration even easier.
- Electronic Organizers. Collecting client source documents is one of the biggest headaches affecting client/firm relationships. Electronic organizers provide clients with a more modern and convenient way to provide information. And when it’s easier for clients to provide their information, firms don’t have to spend as much time tracking them down.
Provide Timely Service
Clients expect service faster than ever. They are using technology at home and in their own businesses to work smarter and faster. So if you aren’t using similar technology, they’ll certainly wonder why not.
- Scanning/OCR. Scan and AutoFlow software has been around for a long time now, and it’s come a long way. If you’re still manually entering data, even if you have an intern or trainee doing the work, you could be using your time more wisely. And your clients know it!
- Project Workflow. When a busy firm gets even busier, projects tend to get lost. That’s why workflow software can help firms improve client relationships by tracking project due dates and automating processes. Creating consistent, repeatable workflows will make your firm more efficient so you can complete client work more quickly.
Improve Client Experience
- E-payments. If you want to make clients happy, then do not make them write a check to pay for your services. Checks are inconvenient and out of date, not to mention slow. Instead, offer clients the ability to pay with credit or debit cards. And make the processes even faster by offering online payment options. You’ll get paid faster, and your clients will thank you.
- Multifactor Authentication. There is probably no worse client experience than finding out your data has been compromised. Firms that are serious about client service need to also take security seriously. Implementing security measures like multifactor authentication will help firms protect client and firm data. And, of course, protecting your clients’ sensitive data is critical in a trusted advisor relationship.