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What Defines an Awesome Client Experience?


Your clients rely on your services and advice for their continued success and growth. But have you ever thought about what their experience is like when they work with your firm?  This article from Geni Whitehouse, CPA, CITP examines common factors that prevent many firms from delivering a top-notch experience for their clients at every touch point. 

May 24th 2021
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In the “old days'' an awesome client experience meant a friendly front desk person to greet clients, a clean, professional office and knowledgeable caring staff who adhere to promised deadlines. These principles still apply but many of your clients might be transacting entirely electronically with you now. 

For this reason, firms need to pay attention to every client touchpoint, whether it’s person-to-person, or digital. It’s this last bit where a modern firm will fall down.  Their digital client experience has not kept pace with their person-to-person client experience.

Client Experience 2.0 means that every touchpoint with your firm is easy and seamless for clients on the go. What are the barriers to creating an awesome end-to-end experience for clients? (Let’s assume everyone on your team is amazing and no improvements are needed there.) 

Two main factors that are likely impacting your firm’s overall client experience: 

  1. Tech was chosen to meet the needs of your firm, not your clients.
  2. Staff are mainly using email to communicate with clients. 

Don’t Ask Clients to Use Technology Not Designed For Them

Most accounting firms choose their technology with their own productivity needs in mind, and the client’s experience is not considered.  This doesn’t mean the firm is trying to make things hard for the client - it just means that the technology was chosen to solve a FIRM challenge. (We call that a service-centric perspective.  It is no longer enough.)

Portals are a good example. They solve a firm need (security and central access to documents for staff) but are notoriously difficult for clients to use.

You’ll know you have an issue with your solution if vast numbers of your clients boycott it altogether, or if staff have to spend time helping clients figure out how to use it. Instead, look for a solution that is easy for clients to use on the go, while ALSO satisfying the security and access needs of the firm.

Email is a BIG Problem For Clients on the Go

Most of your clients are on the go with just their phone in hand.  They see your clearly-worded email with a long list of documents needed and a link to your portal, and they are immediately overwhelmed. They know right away that they cannot deal with that in the moment.  Instead, they have to be at their computer, with a scanner, so they can scan and upload the documents to your portal (and that’s if they agree to use your portal - many don’t). 

Meanwhile, your email slips lower and lower in their inbox until you have to send them another email.  And the cycle begins again. It’s not only clients who suffer, your staff suffer too.

Because clients are not able to respond quickly, staff don’t get the documents they need to do the important client work.  So they have to hound their clients and send even more emails. Instead of email, look for a tool that allows clients to respond immediately, using only their phone.

Where’s Your Firm on the Client Experience Spectrum?

There are five “litmus” questions to ask yourself :  

  1. Is the software we ask our clients to use, EASY for them to use?
  2. What percentage of our clients send their documents in on time?
  3. How many times do we have to request documents from our clients?
  4. How many places do staff have to look, to find documents clients had sent us?
  5. How many bcc and cc emails do we send, to keep staff in the loop about a client matter?

Once you have the answers to the 5 questions you’ll want to map them to the challenges each creates for staff.  As an example - if clients find your systems hard to use, they will use what they have in hand - their phone. 

They’ll text you unusable pictures of documents, or use an insecure email to send sensitive information unencrypted. Or, they just don’t send information at all and you have to request again.

Because of the different methods clients will use to send their information, staff waste hours searching different platforms including asking other staff if they have the document in their inboxes.  And everyone knows the email overload caused by endless cc’ing in the effort to keep everyone in the loop. It's exhausting and it leads to a poor staff experience and a poor client experience.

The root cause is that your client-facing technology is not easy for them to use on the go, and this causes them to delay sending documents on time, which causes stress for staff.  Your firm is not a seamless and easy part of your client’s day because they can’t deal with your requests quickly and carry on with their work.

Firms who have moved to a Client Experience 2.0 model are reaping the benefits in terms of happier clients, faster client response times, and much less stress for staff.  They use a client-facing mobile solution that is as secure and easy to use on the go as an online banking app.

Staff get more work done and can spend time on higher-value advisory services instead of chasing clients for documents or searching across multiple platforms for documents they sent. To take a deeper look at your firm’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of Client Experience, take this short quiz. 

The next article in the Year of The Client series will examine the Tools, Technologies and Processes that firms can use to roll out Client Experience 2.0 in 2021.

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.