Getting Clients to Respond the First Timeby
In a perfect world, clients would see your requests for documents and information and respond right away. What a joy that would be! This would give you more time to work on their engagements and advise them so they make better business decisions. But it often doesn't work that way. Why not?
Helping your clients is the reason you went into this profession, you want to help your clients be more successful, but they aren’t always as responsive as you’d like.
What really happens is that clients don’t respond quickly and as a result, you can’t work your magic quickly. The good news is that this problem is solvable and the best part is that you don’t have to change your accounting firm's GL or tax programs.
It all hinges on how you ask for documents and information. When you make it easy for clients to respond, they do so quickly. And as a result, your firm can get more work done at speed.
Your Current Method May Be Holding You Back
Most firms use email to request documents from, and communicate with, clients. We’ve used email for over 30 years and it seems like the best way to move quickly. But is it?
As you ponder that question, think about what happens when a client receives your email. Can they actually answer it with the tools they have at hand?
Clients see your clearly-worded emails come in and know they cannot respond. Why? Because they receive your emails on their smartphones. They don’t have a scanner nearby and they can’t easily log in to your portal using their phone.
Plus, they are at work! Their priority is serving their clients. Your email drops down in their inbox until you send another email asking for the same things. And then another. In the meantime, your work on that client is stalled.
Experts estimate that up to 40 percent of an accountant's time is spent just gathering documents. Just let that sink in. So, if we all agree that your staff are awesome, and their work is “WOW,” then why is communication breaking down like this and so much time is being wasted? Why don’t clients just answer your emails the first time you send them?
Client Service is Not Client Experience
An important clarification is warranted. We are not talking about the services you offer or how your staff interact in person with your clients. Your staff are terrific and you use awesome back office technology to do quality work for your clients.
But how do your clients interact digitally with your firm? What is their experience when they need to send you something securely, or answer your question, or sign a document? How easy is it? And if it's not easy, what happens?
Technology Plays a Role in Client Response Times
As it turns out, the very technology you use to communicate with clients has a direct impact on their response times. To understand the correlation, let’s examine the challenges that the most common method that firms use (email and a portal) can cause for firms and their clients.
4 main challenges for clients:
1. They are busy. They need a great mobile option for interacting with you when they are not at their desks.
2. No scanner at hand. If you need a paper-based document, your request has to wait.
3. Portals are not user friendly. Low client adoption is the norm, so using a portal will fail for the majority of your clients.
4. Email is full of noise. Your email does not stand out in the sea of email they get.
4 main challenges for firms:
1. Data silos - staff can’t see in each other’s inboxes.
2. Volume - CC’ing staff to keep them in the loop causes email inboxes to explode.
3. Security - scammers and phishers mimic your firm.
4. Inefficiency - you send an email, then have to track and resend it.
Clients Want to Respond (So They Text?)
If your client is texting you at least you get quick answers, but they also expect a quick response! Also - if a client has a staff person’s personal phone and loves to text them, they are at risk of going with that staffer should they ever leave the firm. So, using staff personal phones to get quick answers from clients is not the best solution. It's also not secure.
The key point here is that your clients are trying. The pictures they text of documents you need is their attempt to respond using the only tool they have at hand. They are sending you a strong message that you need to make it easier for them to work with you.
Client Experience 2.0 - The New Standard for Modern Firms
The secret to getting clients to respond the first time is to switch to a method of asking that keeps pace with their busy lives. Once you change your method - which fits easily into any practice no matter what accounting or tax or workflow software you use - everything gets easier.
If you make it as easy to send you a document as banks have made it to deposit a check using a modern banking app, your clients will respond quickly, and because you have the documents and information you need from them, you will get more done.
With everything in one place, your staff have full visibility and a data silos break down forever. This is Client Experience 2.0 and thousands of accountants and bookkeepers are now able to move so much faster because clients send in documents on the first request.
Take the time to understand where your firm is now in terms of client experience. Then, take a good look at the role your current method plays in your clients’ response times.
And of course, you’ll want to make the necessary changes soon so you put it into action before your busier season descends on you again.You’ve got this!
|At Liscio, we’re dedicated to the craft of client experience. We believe the right client experience speeds the exchange of data between firm and client, minimizes wasted motion, and creates raving fans. Liscio's platform achieves these goals by putting all of the tools client's need to respond quickly right at their fingertips -- including an all-in-one mobile app, automatic reminders, and even a mobile document scanner. With all client communications and documents centralized in Liscio, it’s easy for staff to quickly see what is going on with each client’s account. And since Liscio is so easy for clients to use, they send documents quickly when asked. No more data silos, no more chasing clients for documents, and no more searching across multiple platforms.To see how Liscio can help you provide a world-class experience for your clients and staff, book a personalized demo.|
Lynda Artesani is the founder of Artesani Accounting, a firm specializing in working exclusively with attorneys and law firms. She is the co-founder of The Accountant's Law Lab, a private group for bookkeepers and accountants that want to specialize in working with attorneys or learn the complexities of law firm clients. Lynda is a member of...