We recently talked with Marie Donaldson, the founder and MD of Fresh Clarity, who told us about their tax season workflows, their onboarding process and the importance of consistent client communication.
Marie Donaldson is the founder and MD of Fresh Clarity, a firm of chartered accountants in Shropshire that specialises in growth and transformation for service-based businesses. They help small businesses with their financial management and business development plans.
Marie started using Senta three years ago, when she realised it was taking too long to build the templates to manage deadlines in Excel. “Whilst in Excel we could manage the deadlines, Senta gave us the ability to manage the tasks and the workflows to bring some consistency and make it easier as the team grew for us to know what the tasks were for certain jobs.”
This has also made her job a lot less stressful than it was. “Before, everything was in my head and on my shoulders,” she said. “When I was trying to go to sleep at night, I would think, 'oh god, have we done this or that?' whereas now it's all within the system so it's out of my head.”
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Task management during the tax season
If I had to choose one feature within Senta, it would be the workflows and the tasks because it means it's not all down to me, I don't have to be here to tell the team what to do. They know what needs to be doing, even things for things that they don't do but I normally do. They can see what the process is to still deliver that if needed.
For a lot of the regular jobs we have, the initial task is to contact the client, so we have standardised emails set up to be sent automatically. For example, when it's the first day of the new tax year, Senta will automatically send an email to the client requesting their information for the last tax year.
The same happens with VAT returns – the first day after the end of the quarter, Senta will automatically email out requesting any information we need. This has made a big difference. There's a lot more consistency now in timing and the sequence of the tasks as well.
Unified onboarding process
For our onboarding process, we use different tools.
The prospects first book a 'discovery call' with us and once we agree that we can help them they come in for a meeting with me. In that meeting, we dig into their business.
We then use GoProposal and when the client accepts the proposal it then triggers a workflow in Senta for our onboarding process. So it's not just me involved in that process, different members of the team have got tasks within that onboarding process. For instance, there will be someone assigned to contact the previous accountant if there is one, and someone to keep the client up to date on what's happening with the handover.
We also use Google forms for our know-your-client forms and things like that, so I get a notification when that's ready.
And as all the clients pay by Direct Debit through GoCardless, the requests are also sent from within Senta.
The importance of personalized client communication
Senta has improved our communication with clients because we have a lot more consistency now. It's not just because we can, for instance, adapt the body of the emails, but it's also about the timing, as we can choose to send the same request to all our clients at the same time.
Whilst we try to automate what we can, we also try to keep the service personalised because we are not a high-volume accountancy practice, so our connection with the clients is very important.
The automation is great for the run-of-the-mill tasks that happen each month, but you still need that personalisation and contact with the client.