Leveraging CAS With Advisory Servicesby
Client Experience 2.0 is fast becoming a must-have, so you must use the right tools, technologies, and processes to take full advantage of this model in your firm. In Part 1 of his article series, Randy Johnston laid out considerations for selecting and building the right technology stack that works together for a seamless and awesome experience for your clients and staff. This article will cover how Client Accounting Services (CAS) drives other services, and how it has a direct impact on your client experience.
At its core, accounting firms can extend their value to clients by providing forward-looking advisory services, rather than backwards-facing compliance services. When this is done right, Client Accounting Services (CAS) can drive other engagements and projects and delight clients and staff.
Whoever controls client accounting services sees the client opportunity first. If CAS is managed correctly, you can uncover cash flow problems, profitability issues, inventory issues and other business performance problems. You can then create solutions and advise your clients. And throughout all of this, if your client experience is managed correctly all boats rise.
If you are proactive with advisory services, you will provide more client value and can ultimately provide more services (and of course bill higher fees). Perhaps the most important outcome is that you’ll develop a deeper relationship with your clients. While this article is not trying to help you understand how to build an advisory practice per se, there are some fundamentals of advisory services and they start with examining the experience you want to provide for your clients.
Consider the following:
1. Client-centric enables Whole of Client (WoC) approach
- WoC leads to a deeper form of relationship more conducive to consultations and advisory services
- WoC is more than just numbers and transactions and compliance
2. Relationship vs. Transactional
- Relationship = indispensable and in the room when the decisions are made, creates, and compensates the firm based on value provided
- Transactional = Clean up things after the fact, uncoupled from value creation, an expense which client wants to reduce over time
The client framework of advisory services includes the advisory/compliance dynamic (pictured below). You should understand the power of process. When process is applied, you’ll gain leverage and scalability, consistency, and quality control, and can exercise SOP - Standard Operating Procedures.
To implement a successful Advisory Strategy, you need to understand that
- Advisory must be client-centric and primary
- Success is personal and unique - know what defines success for each client
- Must deploy processes/SOPs with a delivery platform
- To create your firm’s Advisory Client Framework requires an advisory focus
- You must PLAN for both the client and the firm
- Client experience matters from first touch all the way to delivery of the work
- Close the Air Gap Between Your Firm and Your Clients
Do you have an “air gap” with many of your clients? Likely YES! For example, are staff texting your best clients and leaving your "average" clients in email and portals?
In addition to a solid advisory strategy, firms need to have the right digital presence to stay close and to provide advice when it is needed. Texting is close and personal (but can be too personal and is limited in terms of tools/capabilities).
Email is way too big of a gap. This gap is a strategic issue that you need to address, or other firms will eat your lunch on client service. They will take your best advisory clients away from your firm because those clients demand a top-notch client experience.
Where Does Exchanging Documents With Clients Fit in With Advisory?
Since the CAS work your firm does usually starts with requesting documents from clients, secure document exchange becomes an important consideration. How do you get what you need? What techniques do you currently use? How much chasing do you have to do to get it?
- Prepared by Client (PBC) list?
- Monthly checklist for bookkeeping services?
- Calls (sometimes as a desperate last resort)?
And how do you keep track of it all?
- Document Management System (DMS), document storage system (DSS), DIY
- Task lists in practice management
What do you want the client experience to be?
- Provide the firm what they have
- In the format they have
- Firm requests that are easy to understand and action
- Legal eSignature easy to do
o Sign off on new projects
o Complete requirement paperwork
And how do you want your clients and your team to use the documents?
- Right content, right format, right time
- Complete, correct, concise
- Easy to read, locate, collaborate, and distribute
- Retained by engagement or policy
To significantly improve your client experience, look for a secure, invite-only tool where no one else but your firm and your invited clients can access the platform. Look for a clean, organized workspace with every message, client task list, and all files feeding into one place where everyone can find them without being cc'd on anything.
Make sure everyone in your firm can see all the files and messages. That way, no matter who interacts with the client, every authorized person in the firm can see the documents and transactions, enabling proactive client service.
Most of your best clients are mobile so consider obtaining a fully featured mobile experience that lets you be in contact with your clients wherever they are at so that you are never stuck waiting to get work done again. 2021 and beyond is a time of improved document exchange, client collaboration, and client experience.
The best firms build their advisory practices from the awesome CAS experience they have created for their clients. What type of experience are you going to create for your clients as you move more of them to an advisory engagement? And how will your firm benefit from Client Experience 2.0?
Differentiation and higher fees from more engaged clients are just the beginning. Your staff will love coming to work and everyone will get more done.
|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.|
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Randy Johnston is a nationally recognized educator, consultant, and writer with over 40 years experience in Strategic Technology Planning, Accounting Software Selection, Paperless, Systems and Network Integration, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning, Business Development and Management, Process Engineering and outsourced managed...