Why Your Firm’s Client Experience Starts With Youby
To create an environment where staff place clients firmly at the center of the firm, owners, managing partners, and supervising members of progressive firms may need assistance developing new leadership skills. Andrew Wall, CPA, shares how he changed his leadership style after taking over his father’s firm and brought his staff along on the Client Experience 2.0 journey, so they are now 100 percent invested in creating the best possible experience for their valued clients.
When I took my firm over from my father, I moved to the cloud and added value pricing, but it wasn’t enough. The problem with technology is that you also need to have a vision – what do you want to accomplish? What is your destination state?
Ultimately, I knew I had to make several key changes to grow and become a modern firm. My father disliked meetings because it was unbillable – so no one knew what was going on. Everything was in silos, and no one operated at peak.
I envisioned a firm where clients would enjoy the best possible experience and their businesses would thrive because of the advisory services we provided. Staff would be happy, productive and supported in a way that allowed them to do the best work of their lives. And of course, we would be profitable and have fun as well.
With this vision in mind, I started to break down what I needed to do as a leader to bring staff along on this journey. Inspired by people who are doing something different in the industry, I took note. I went to conferences, watched webinars, read books, and talked to people in leadership roles. This article is a distillation of the things I’ve learned and how you might approach moving your own firm to a Client Experience 2.0 model.
One of the things I realized right away was that you can’t do the same things over and over again and expect different results! It’s the definition of insanity. So, it was important to start with the areas where we were experiencing friction.
Our main friction points:
- Suboptimal team visibility. We had so many data silo’s that no one knew everything.
- Speed of answers was problematic. Clients expect it fast, but we struggled to answer quickly due to the silos.
- Email was working against us. Our team collectively received 400+ emails a day and there was so much information locked up in those inboxes. Copying everyone to keep them in the loop created even more havoc.
- We couldn’t easily find documents. Clients sent them in using so many methods that we had to search across 5+ platforms just to find what we needed.
- We hated chasing clients for documents. Clients were often late sending documents, and we wasted time repeatedly asking for them.
The first thing I worked on was creating a vision, solution, and process around centralized and segregated communication for the team, and chose technology to facilitate that. But I had to also make sure the team understood the vision and was onboard with the changes I was going to make (including rolling out the new technology.)
Rolling Out the Vision to the Team
Management training courses helped me understand how to lead and sustain positive change, and I learned that I should not focus on the “trees” – instead, I manage the forest. Leaders need to have a clear vision and explain it repeatedly – 1000 times – so it becomes part of the staff’s daily thought processes.
To operationalize it, we adapted management styles from other industries. It starts with Annual Planning and deciding what results do we want to deliver in the year ahead? What big goals do we want to accomplish to grow the firm and develop staff?
Once we have that documented, we break into quarterly goals, then monthly and weekly, and add operational rhythms to keep everyone on track. Here are our operating meetings and their purpose:
1. Daily Standups – 15 minutes
- Light social check-ins and a positive share or two
- What do you have on your plate?
- What do you need help with?
2. Weekly Team Meetings – 1 hour
- Are we on track to meet deadlines?
3. Monthly Team Meetings – 1 hour
- Ensure the team is on track to meet quarterly goals
- Course-correct if needed
4. Quarterly Performance Checks – 2.5 hours
- Ensure the team is on track to meet annual goals
- Course-correct if needed
Ensuring consistency across staff
Done right, one voice is amplified by everyone. If everyone sings the same tune its harmony – if everyone sings a different tune its chaos.
Each section of our client-facing website ties back to one of our core values and is woven into every message the firm gives clients, from initial branding all the way to delivery of the work. Clients and staff see a consistent message across every channel.
Staff sees the vision on their monitors every day. They echo the messages every time they speak to clients. And of course, we revisit the vision and our values in every team meeting.
Building Staff Experience 2.0
It takes 25 minutes to get back to a task after an interruption, so we needed a solution. Here is how we help staff achieve “flow”:
- Dedicated work blocks – 90-minute blocks with no interruptions
- Managers make a list of things they need to discuss with staff, instead of sending a Teams or Slack message
- No emails at night to staff (schedule and send in the am!)
- Use technology to help
Investing in team building pays off. When we had a retreat, our staff came back and had their best month ever! The timing is important – do it right before your big push. Reinforcing your vision in a dedicated team offsite energizes people and you can use that power to get them fired up about the work and crush it.
Focus on these four key things:
- Set a compelling vision and repeatedly communicate it
- Conduct regular operational check ins (meeting rhythms)
- Choose technology that makes it easy for staff and clients
- Invest in your team
|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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Andrew Wall is a Chartered Professional Accountant and Certified Management Accountant with over 18 years in accounting and IT development. He is the founder of CPA4it.ca a cloud based accounting firm focused on helping small businesses. Andrew is a global thought leader and has been recognized...