Connect4 launches new online client meeting toolby
A Cambridge-based startup is looking to move virtual meetings to a new level within accountancy with a specialist app called Connect4.
Built as a web meeting platform within Google Chrome, Connect4 allows the user to schedule and manage online meetings with prospects and clients in a set of pods and clusters (pictured above).
The pod is the app’s basic building block, which is described by Connect4 co-founder Andrew Jordon as a “safe place” that can be created and built on for each client. These pods can be organised into clusters of multiple pods – for example, the clients within a particular manager’s portfolio.
“Each pod is essentially a client,” explained Jordon. “If you’re a small accountancy firm, you might have 50-100 pods where you can meet with each client in their pod and build up a history of actions and documents.”
Each pod page allows the user to schedule online meetings with other participants within Connect4. Built-in tools are provided to set an agenda and capture notes for each meeting, which are then stored in the pod’s history feed.
The app comes with a library of common document types and agenda templates that the user can customise to ensure that consistent procedures are followed, eg for a client end of year tax meeting, or a discussion about R&D tax credits. There is also an “Action” page, which can be used to assign tasks to people in the meeting.
People can be added into a pod, for example, to include support staff who are involved in the meetings or occasional participants who can check back in to see what has been discussed. There are a range of tools in each pod, including a Resources tab that can hold documents, video clips and links to other relevant apps and information sources, including accounting tools such as Xero, Dext and most of the leading cloud practice management products.
The software is priced at £19/month for single users and £29/month for larger teams.
Connect4 co-founder Andrew Jordon has a track record in the cloud accounting ecosystem as a former European director for the analytics app Fathom. After working to develop the second generation during 2020, he enlisted the support of industry insiders including AutoEntry founder Brendan Woods, Guy Pearson (Practice Ignition) and David Tuck (Chaser) during a funding round at the beginning of the year.
He told AccountingWEB how the idea for Connect4 came about: “While at Fathom, I understood the advisory solution – but could see that management accounts were becoming like statutory accounts – something that was just sent out to clients and forgotten.
“I knew that in any service delivery situation, conversations were the most valuable element of the client relationship. That was amplified by coronavirus when people needed to work digitally. I realised there was a gap when it came to having regular, valued conversations with clients.”
With tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, it’s much more difficult to differentiate your firm, so part of the Connect4 mission is to create a productive environment focused on results and demonstrating the value that the adviser is delivering, Jordon said.
“Advice and the value you provide a client can get thrown away on Zoom, so we built Connect4 to provide evidence of that value by building up a feed of past meetings in a pod and logging the actions completed.”
Test user feedback
Jordon and his team have been working with a group of 25 “seed partners” to refine the product’s functionality. Peter Jarman at PJCO is one of the pioneering practitioners who have picked up on the new app.
Praising Connect 4 as his “favourite app” during a conversation about his firm’s tech stack, Jarman explained how it had helped ease the pain of virtual meetings during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
“In the past, we could have a good meeting with a client, with an agenda and things to forward to them. That died away with Zoom and Teams and we couldn’t organise them as well. Connect4 is our way to get the agenda sorted and bring all the resources we need to bear,” Jarman said.
“If there’s an issue around something like life policies – for example, to make a company more tax-efficient – it can be easy to miss off the agenda when the portfolio managers set meetings up. If it’s in the Connect4 template, it’ll come up and we make sure we tell every client.
“It keeps everything really systemised and simple. We make fewer mistakes and deliver the same result to all clients – which is the way we like to use technology.”
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