Getting Clients to Buy-Inby
Adding technology tools to your firm will bring about much needed automation and reprieve from mundane tasks, but getting clients to buy-in is the hardest part of making these necessary changes.
Clients aren't always on board with changes or buy-in on automation, even if they involve moving away from manual processing to more automated ones. Moreover, it's very helpful to give clients as much information as possible so they feel comfortable making a switch.
Here are a few handy tricks to help customers get on board with the new advances in technology in your firm:
Eliminate Friction Before it Starts
We all have that one client that we know will complain if anything changes at all. From a staff change, to an email address change, they always feel the most challenged and require a bit more attention whenever something is different. In my practice, we call this client a VIP.
Our VIP client is always honest and direct (sometimes to a fault), but more importantly, they are instrumental in making sure you eliminate any friction points before you introduce new technology to the rest of your client base.
The VIP client is often the first one I contact to ask if they will help me test out a new software before it's introduced to the rest of our client base. This person will feel special and honored because you came to them for help. More importantly, they will feel a part of the process and will feel they are "in charge" of deciding if you ultimately use the software. The end result is they will be the first friction point eliminated, just by making that initial call and showing the right amount of attention.
Once they agree to meet (I haven't had a VIP turn me down on my offer yet), do a walkthrough of the potential new process with them via Zoom or other video conferencing platform and encourage questions and feedback along the way. Ask them questions such as "how does this look?" or "does this seem easy to use?"
Ultimately, you want this client to give you their honest opinion. Also, don't forget to make sure the session is being recorded (with their permission, of course) so that you can use discovery from the call to build your FAQ's and web library before the firm-wide software rollout.
Build a Resource Library
We start this process by having our VIP client identify any potential friction points, and then we take that information and build a small library of videos or quick links from the software develop. Do this in order to answer the questions identified in that initial interview before they land in your inbox after a system-wide rollout.
This will be one of the most important things you do to ensure a smooth transition from a manual process, such as manual expense reports, to new technology for your clients. Having quick access to videos on the basic use of the new software or process will be key to help ensure less friction when they actually start using it.
You should also film a welcome video to explain what the software does and why your firm is now using it. The goal of the welcome video is to help clients understand how this will benefit them in some form or fashion. Remember, they need to feel included in the process and get their buy-in and this is how you let them know they were top of mind when deciding to use the new technology.
Rollout in Phases
Now that our VIP client has done a walk through and helped the team create a web library for firm-wide adoption, it's time to rollout to all of your customers. This is where I encourage you to actually rollout in phases instead.
You want to allow up to half of your customers to try the new system and provide you with additional feedback. This gives you time to tweak the new process even further and add any additional videos if necessary. It also gives you and your team the peace of mind that all the customers won't be having issues at the same exact time, ensuring there will be resources available in case of any major issues or downtime.
Rolling out in phases will also ensure you don't have hundreds of angry clients calling and emailing at the same time. Also, having this phased rollout will allow you the option to offer a more “white-gloved” rollout service.
Flipping the switch to turn on the new process at a certain date or time and then pre-scheduling a client appointment to answer questions that may arise about the new service or technology allows the client to feel like you aren't just "springing" something new on them and hoping they get it. It shows them you are willing and available to help them connect to the process.
Don't Forget to Check-in
Now that you have rolled out the process to all to the clients, don't forget to check-in with them to see how the new process is working. I like to check-in around the 30-45 day mark. This usually gives us a full cycle to put the new process into place and work out any kinks.
Again, this check-in includes the clients and helps them understand you value their opinion and that we put the new process into place to benefit the working relationship. This check-in helps to solidify precisely why they opted to work with you and your firm.
This check-in also allows you to hear of any new, unforeseen issues that arose once they actually start using the new technology. Maybe a new video needs to be added to the video library, or worst case, the new software will not work for a particular client. Either way, the check-in allows you to take care of the problem before it grows into a larger one.
Yes, technology is the tool we use to get things done, but the relationships we build around adoption will allow your firm to continue to grow. As we automate more of our day-to-day work, we will need to remind our customers that there is an actual person behind the machine and that our role is to ensure the machine is providing the data they need in order to help them build their business. In turn, this strengthens our relationship with the clients and gets buy-in and confidence for any suggestions we make along the way.
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Nayo Carter-Gray, EA, is owner and founder of 1st Step Accounting LLC, where her goal is “making accounting a little less taxing” for small business owners. She is a QuickBooks Online Advanced Certified ProAdvisor and member of the Intuit Trainer/Writer Network.