How CRM can boost your firm’s professionalism
Five ways CRM can drive your practice to success – in the most important metric of all
In the accountancy business, it can be easy to fall back on the idea that it’s all about numbers – figures, balances, reports. But to say that it’s only digits and decimals making successful accountancy firms tick would be a gross miscalculation.
That’s because it’s people that are at the heart of everything accountants do. So, whether it’s finding new clients, onboarding them, or keeping them around, you need to understand your clients to be able to do your work effectively.
But what do small businesses actually want when it comes to their accountant? What is that one central characteristic your firm should be working hardest to cultivate and nurture? Experience? Qualifications? Integrity? A forward-thinking approach?
Well, the results are in, and it turns out that what UK small businesses prize above all isn’t any of the above…
That’s right – in recent research from PracticeWeb, 52% of SME respondents said that professionalism is the most important quality they look for in an accountant. Sure, honesty (47%), reliability (39%), and experience (32%) won’t do you any harm when it comes to attracting new clients. But ultimately, it’s how professional you are that will determine how many of those clients will stick around.
What’s more, a survey of 3,000 B2B buyers found that over half of respondents desire an emotional connection during the buying process. SME owners and key decision-makers aren’t just looking for the facts and figures – they want to collaborate with businesses that share their values, and understand them and their aspirations.
That said, we all know how hard it can be to maintain those human connections – especially when all your client contact details are tied up in inaccessible spreadsheets, or overstuffed ring binders. Your to-do list is already full enough – how are you supposed to find the time and resource to bond with your clients, while also maintaining that all-important level of professionalism?
Well, Client Relationship Management (CRM) software is a good start.
With the right CRM software, your practice will have all the tools at its disposal to provide a professional, personalised service. By automating key processes, leveraging client data, and bridging data silos within your team, software like FibreCRM helps you get more efficiency out of your team, and more engagement from your clients.
Here are five ways how.
1. PERSONALISED WORKFLOWS
If there’s anything that screams unprofessionalism, it’s letting tasks slip through the cracks. Forgetting to return an important call or missing a big deadline can sink even the most accomplished accountants, and are excellent ways to lose clients.
CRM workflows can help with this. They’re essentially automated triggers you can embed into every part of the client journey. Build a welcome email in to the onboarding process, or automate a kick-off meeting to define your client’s goals.
Even after onboarding is done, workflows continue to help keep a handle on the routine, repetitive tasks. You can automate the sending of reminder alerts for tax deadlines, and let the system take care of chasing clients for you. Workflows also make it simple to schedule in quarterly tax and business planning reviews, leveraging your client data to know exactly when it’s time to get in touch.
And when it is time to get in touch, you’ll have more time to spare to focus on your client. Less admin, more time for fee generating and relationship activities.
Workflows from FibreCRM also save you time by keeping your client communication simple, regular, and effective. Not only will you always appear to be on the ball with your attentiveness to your client’s key dates (both financial and personal – let’s not forget their birthday), but that regular contact will help cement a relationship that could equate to life-time client value.
2. ALL YOUR INFORMATION, IN ONE PLACE
How else can CRM improve the professionalism of your practice? Well, by making sure all your team are on the same page. With remote workers, freelancers, and in-house staff to juggle, you need to store your business and client data in a place everyone can access it – wherever, whenever.
CRM software does just this, acting as a central data hub and documenting all your client interactions. Whether it’s a call, an email, or notes from a recent meeting, you’ll know exactly where you’re at with a client. Enter every new meeting prepared and in the loop, confident you haven’t missed out on a key conversation while on holiday last week.
Better still, because CRM software is cloud-based, your team can update information in real time, on-the-go – all from their smartphones. Proposals, for instance, can be created from within the CRM, and accessed across your whole team in an instant.
And as for your staff, their work has never been so easy. The CRM software’s automatic reminders will keep them focussed, while its in-built calendar will keep them organised.
So, whether it’s liaising with clients, referrers, or third-party suppliers, your staff will have everything they need to drive your practice (quite literally) at their fingertips. What does that mean for you? A practice that’s dynamic, switched on, and that exudes professionalism.
3. EFFECTIVE, TARGETED MARKETING
Professionalism at your accountancy shouldn’t be restricted to client meetings or telephone calls. It should permeate every facet of your marketing, too – how you project your brand and tone of voice to a large new audience of potential clients.
CRM lets you utilise your existing client database to craft intelligent, targeted marketing campaigns. Refresh lapsed leads, and carve out new, exciting business from old prospects . And for convenience, any changes you make to leads, deals, or prospects in the CRM will automatically reflect in your marketing lists.
What that means is that the right communications always go to the right decision-makers, without the hassle of having to manually update records. You’ll also sidestep the embarrassment of an email ending up with the wrong person, or the frustration of seeing your time (and hard work) bounce back in the form of undeliverable mail.
And where security’s concerned, CRM software like FibreCRM helps you ensure you stay GDPR-compliant, with time-stamped audit trails giving you a full history of all your contact with clients, introducers, and suppliers. FibreCRM also integrates with marketing automation platforms like Vuture, Campaign Monitor and MailChimp, to give your marketing team a 360 view of what’s working, and where you should go next.
4. PROVIDE A TAILORED CLIENT EXPERIENCE
No one wants to feel like a number – least of all your clients. So it goes without saying that a good client experience is also one that’s personal – tailored to the unique needs of their business, industry, and goals.
Here’s where CRM comes in. Right from the off, you can get to know your clients (and help them get to know you) with pre-recorded videos embedded into the onboarding process. Help your clients develop unique success metrics that reflect their vision, and then easily measure progress on these over time, through your CRM’s built-in analytics.
On top of this, you can offer your clients NPS surveys directly through the CRM, to garner feedback about your services. Doing this also serves as a statement to your client – a demonstrable desire to take their insights, and continue improving your services to them. In other words, it’s a professional way of doing things.
FibreCRM’s Client Portal makes it easy to provide your clients with the dedicated, attentive service they deserve. You’ll be able to request information in a matter of clicks, all via a simple drag-and-drop form builder. They’ll be able to securely view, manage, and upload their information and documents to your system in moments.
It’s quick, clean, simple… it’s professional.
5. FREE UP TIME FOR THE IMPORTANT STUFF
Accountancy is no stranger to the gruelling administrative tasks – those bureaucratic black holes into which your time, energy (and, quite frequently, patience) get sucked.
Using software like FibreCRM, though, helps you refine and automate those key (but mundane) processes. Through streamlining your workload, you can cut the seemingly endless chaff from the wheat nourishing your practice – namely, your relationships with your clients.
Let’s take an example. FibreCRM’s e-signing capabilities can cut the time you spend creating, sending, and renewing Letters of Engagement from over 500 hours to just 145. Not only is that around £50,000 a year saved, but it’s a potential extra 355 hours your team could be dedicating to its clients.
FibreCRM also smooths key processes relating to KYC and AML – ensuring you remain compliant and in-the-know, while freeing you up time for a screen share call or face-to-face meeting with your client. Carving out time to sit down and understand your clients is a sign of a personable, professional accountant – or, in plain English, an accountant that retains their clients.
Cloud technology has been disrupting the accounting profession since 2005, and the coming decade will only see technology’s influence over the industry grow.
Amid this, accounting practices nationwide are facing increasing competition… though the resources to provide the professionalism SMEs demand are remaining as scarce as ever. How do you not only keep up with the technology, but harness it to save time, reduce the legwork, and cultivate a better, more individual client experience?
Well, FibreCRM is a good start. Tailored to your industry, it’s built to provide your team with the tools to make those emotional connections your clients desire, while being the best accountants – and people – they can be.
Book a free discovery call with us today to find out more about what FibreCRM can do for your business.