Data Disaster – Why aren’t accountants unlocking the full potential of client data?
Accountancy firms across the UK and around the world possess incredible sources of data about their clients.
This collection of valuable data is just an ordinary part of their day and more often than not gets stored away safely for potential future use.
But this relaxed attitude to client data doesn’t even begin to realise the full potential of the information that many firms hold – or its ability to unlock new opportunities for them.
With the right data, you can target the best prospects, identify trends and build a clearer picture of your potential marketplace.
You can also spot weaknesses in your own services, communications and client care, which can be essential to retaining the clients you already have.
Within most accountancy firms it is common to find that data is spread across various data silos.
This means that practices have data secured on various platforms and documents, which are often incapable of interacting with each other.
As a result, firms find it difficult to locate data and connect it with the platform they are working on – creating duplication, inefficiency and frustration.
As an example, a firm might have some existing excel databases sitting within their server containing vital information, another data set within their practice management software, other lists stuck in an emailing system and yet more client data stored in the cloud within their online accounting software.
While some platforms may integrate, more often than not they aren’t able to properly reciprocate and share information.
This can make the process of using data for even the most basic of everyday tasks off-putting, to say the least.
And, as a result, can be a barrier to firms reaching their full potential – particularly where it limits their ability to connect with clients or market new services.
What’s more, disjoined and poor data processes can create unnecessary insecurities that can even put client information at risk.
The fragmented approach
You may be wondering, how have firms reached this point. There are many reasons why firms’ data sources and processes may become incoherent.
However, common problems occur where practices have implemented overlapping systems over time. As practices purchase new platforms they add or even replicate data over time.
Then another platform is added and this process starts again. While this may seem illogical, it is entirely understandable given the deluge of work many practices face and their drive for innovation.
The irony is, that by implementing ‘time-saving’ technology they create a new issue that actually takes more time to resolve or work around.
A lack of a clear approach to data storage and use is also often a problem in some firms, which is compounded by partners, directors and departments’ historic preferences for how databases are created and retained.
Nevertheless, by failing to get a grip on data silos firms simply aren’t taking full advantage of the platforms they have already invested in.
Is there a solution?
Firms need to unite their stored data in a single place and make it easy to interpret and use. They need a system that collates data from various sources and provides insights and automation to make their lives easier.
So, what is out there that can do this? Although CRM systems have traditionally been seen largely as a sales or marketing tool for many professional service firms, well-integrated examples of this technology can offer so much more.
Most importantly though, they offer firms the opportunity to have a single tool for managing their data so that they can make better use of it.
Rather than squander the hard work that goes into data collection and the value of the information that they hold, more firms need to invest in technology that improves the client care and retention process.