By Joe Greenspan.
With the nature of accountants’ work skewing toward ‘very busy’ each year-end and in the spring, finding new revenue opportunities is understandably pushed to the bottom of an accountant’s priority list until the slower summer months. Don’t let the end of the busy season be an end to your enthusiasm for finding ways to exceed expectations for clients and prospects. Savvy accountants will leverage the summertime to get ahead on preparing pipeline for next year’s busy season by finding new techniques and tactics to engage and delight clients.
By investing in, and fully leveraging, a robust customer relationship management (CRM) solution, accountants can build deeper relationships with their clients and prospects, while automating repetitive and predictable tasks while reducing time spent on marketing. According to The Ackert Advisory’s State of CRM at Accounting Firms report, 38% of respondents do not use a CRM platform. Of the 62% who do use CRM, less than 5% “use it regularly”. Even the accounting firms that embraced the potential of a robust CRM and business development practice could be missing out on a major opportunity through this underutilization. So, while CPAs may be succeeding in the customer acquisition and management parts of CRM, they can’t afford to forget about the “R” in CRM: relationships.
Accounting firms that commit to modern business development practice can set themselves apart from competitors and exploit ripe opportunities. According to the same report, there are two major reasons preventing firms from seeing high rates of CRM adoption and usage: 24% of respondents feel their CRM platform requires high levels of data entry, while 25% cite a “lack of accountability” as the top reason they do not use their CRM platform very often. Further, 20% of respondents said their CPAs are simply not expected to use CRM. By directly tackling these issues, CPAs can unlock greater potential in their CRM platforms.
Here are three ways accountants can surpass customer and prospect expectations by leveraging a CRM platform:
A CRM platform stores client information and interactions – tracking key details that CPAs can use to build deeper client relationships by reaching out to them on important milestones, birthdays and holidays. By leveraging key details about client engagements, accountants can personalize their communications and better target their messaging, and make their clients feel valued. Fostering trust with clients is predicated on them receiving personalized financial advice – delivering this experience should be a priority for all accountants.
Build and strengthen relationships
With a robust CRM solution, accountants can continuously build a pipeline of new leads, attract and convert prospects, and nurture existing customer relationships over the long term. Maintaining this centralized database of client history means accountants can achieve steady, predictable revenue through committed client relationships that also drive referral business and brand loyalty.
Within an accounting team, details can get lost easily with so many different client relationships to balance. A platform where accountants secure notes about client history keeps a firm organized. By storing client data in one place, the whole firm can have persistent access to it – at the click of a button. This also keeps communications streamlined, enabling personalized, automated client communication and internal visibility into which team member last interacted with the client. This will also enable expanded opportunity visibility across all clients, identifying new engagement potential.
With the busy season in the rear-view mirror, accountants should make time this summer to prioritize business development – and look into new strategies for improving their operations and client relationships. By investing in technology, like a full-featured CRM solution, accountants can personalize interactions, strengthen relationships and improve internal organization and workflows – helping them surpass customers’ expectations, build customer loyalty and build for the future.
Joe Greenspan is VP of Commercial Operations at Act!