By Bruce Reading.
The annual (and rapidly approaching!) tax deadline means lots of things to lots of people. For the accounting industry, it can mean a frenetic pace over many months, perhaps with long commutes to clients and plenty of stress.
But putting these challenges aside to embody “always on” customer service is what we service professionals have to do everyday. With complex client relationships to manage and so little time, streamlining any process related to ensuring meaningful client interactions, maybe especially for accountancy professionals, is absolutely paramount.
I want to share a secret to surviving this busy season (and many others). Frankly it’s just good business advice that could elevate anyone that has customers. That ‘secret’ is CRM. Customer relationship management software allows you to collect, secure, preserve, search and better leverage your customer data.
If you’re using a spreadsheet (or a filing cabinet) to track your client interactions, you’re missing out on a wide field of opportunity. Automating recurring communications or targeting promotional offers by analyzing and indexing your client relationships is THE KEY to business success and exceptional customer service. Leveraging purchase history to personalize communications goes a long way to exceeding expectations, and appearing as an “always on” organization focused on customer service.
Personalize Your Communications
The right CRM platform secures client aspects beyond contact data: purchase history, previous questions and communications, lifetime value, financials, and demographics… as well milestones like birthdays and anniversaries. Putting client data at your fingertips, and putting that data to work, means financial professionals can begin to look at their client bases differently. Developing an approach based on informed cohorts enables you to personalize your communication at scale, even anticipate client needs, and develop packages to meet those needs. Leverage their communication preferences to deliver targeted messages where they live, and use the personalization to forge a stronger client bond.
CRM makes it simple to prioritize client outreach. Accountants can come to those conversations armed with client specifics and conversation notes, so they can pick up where they left off. Impress clients with key details while optimizing the prep time required for these meetings. Every accountant will benefit from a software solution that personalizes client communications, even as it automates that cadence. Long-term relationships are naturally borne from a seamless customer experience, and when clients are engaged, they are more likely to return – and recommend – your services. Between the late nights at the office and long drives to client sites, CRM can be your partner in making every client feel like the only client.
Automate = Delegate
When time is a precious commodity, automating tasks becomes a real game-changer. A trusted ‘set it and forget it’ communication approach means more time on your calendar and fewer things falling through the cracks. Communications of all kinds – thank you’s, follow-ups, marketing – often become neglected in the attempt to juggle so many competing priorities during a busy period. CRM software and the marketing automation that is often embedded, can ease the communication burden, increase the throughput of your client teams, and strengthen critical relationships without added headcount.
For example, within robust marketing automation software, you can easily define participant criteria, build out campaigns that convert and engage clients and cultivate prospects. Deliver value with simple newsletters that share strategies, help clients organize financial statements or provide other timely advice. Once you’re up and running, you can optimize open rates by testing subject lines and refining your target segments by geographic, demographic, psychographic or behavioral characteristics.
Convert More Leads
While it may be tax season for a few months each year, it’s ‘sales season’ all year round. Don’t let lead generation lose momentum during this time. It can be a real opportunity for business growth and CRM software can help accountants convert more prospects to paying clients by importing and organizing leads from different sources, assigning scores to prioritize high-quality leads and enrolling them into progressive (and automated) nurture campaigns. Track clicks for email opens or other triggers for personalized prospect follow-ups. Streamline the entire lead-generation process and generate a higher rate of return on your sales investments.
Automating tasks is like delegating them to a reliable colleague. Personalizing client communications means every client feels valued, and accountants get more time to spend on high value billable activities. Improved processes mean you can do more with less, and ensures that little is left to chance during this critical period – when accountants can’t afford to let anyone down.
Client dynamics can be complex, so secure and preserve these interactions for the health of your business. Maintain – as best you can – an “always on” service mentality to continually exceed expectations and earn the loyalty of your customers. Forgoing lead generation is a luxury that few have, so don’t de-prioritize it because you’re pressed for time. I urge accountants everywhere to embrace this multi-tasking with the help of CRM and marketing automation solutions. Maybe not the solution to every problem, but they do solve a lot of big ones for savvy business owners.
Bruce Reading is the CEO of Act!