We’ve talked before about how systems benefit both you and your clients. You get a virtual assembly line that has a step-by-step process (for example the process of collating data before you ship it off to your accounting outsourcing team) that lets you easily identify where there are problems in your workflow. Your clients in turn receive a trustworthy accounting firm that always has their work done on time and to a Grade A level of quality.
Here’s one of the great benefits to systems – they don’t just have to be used purely for clients’ files. They can be used to improve every aspect of your relationship with your clients – emails, phone calls, meetings, how they’re greeted when they enter your offices – ensuring them a valuable and pleasing interaction with your firm every time.
Let’s imagine two scenarios.
In the Scenario #1 your client comes to your office for a meeting. You don’t have accounting outsourcing, filing, etc. systems in place, never mind systems related to how you interact with your clients.
Nobody specific greets them, so they eventually have to go up to a desk to tell someone that they’re there for a meeting. They’re asked to wait. Then, when they have the actual meeting with you they find that you’re not as prepared as they would like and that there isn’t a defined agenda.
Now on to scenario #2 in your systems-oriented office. The client enters, finds that your office is humming along like a well-oiled machine. Your people, for example, clearly have the job of collating data for the accounting outsourcing team well in hand. They see a room full of people confident that they know what they are doing.
They are greeted by someone who is designated the task. Whether this is a Receptionist, a Client Relations Director, or just one of the staff who was picked to handle this interaction will of course depend on the amount of people you have working for your firm.
The greeter already knows the client’s name and why they’re at your office. They get them seated in whatever room you’re holding the meeting in. They offer the client their favourite choice of beverage which they know from a database of clients’ preferences (if this is the first time you’ve had the client visit your office your designated person will have called and asked the client’s assistant the client’s favourite brand of tea or coffee).
They’re presented with a piece of paper clearly laying out the meeting’s agenda, so they know that A) the meeting, being defined, isn’t going to meander and waste their time and B) that your firm has done prep work to have the meeting revolve around them and their needs.
Scenario #2 certainly seems far more impressive, right? How may accounting firms can brag that they treat their clients like this every single time they interact? A documented system laying out the procedure for client interactions can be just as important to your firm’s growth as is one relating to accounting outsourcing, client query information letters, or any other workflows that you can think of.
Systems to make your clients go “Wow!”
Where else can your firm have established procedures for client interactions? How about:
- Professionally prepared food for longer meetings. In this case your system would involve adding your clients’ food preferences (plus allergies or things they won’t eat) to a database. Snacks for shorter meetings not around mealtimes will probably also impress clients.
- Making sure you have your clients’ preferred drinks available in a selection.
- Having a well-appointed cubbyhole somewhere where your clients can feel free to check up on emails, print out documents, and so on.
- Going beyond accounting to act as a one-stop-shop for out-of-town clients who have come in for a meeting. For example, being ready with various restaurant recommendations depending on a particular client’s tastes, having dry cleaning services picked out near the client’s hotel, etc. While they’re more likely to use a hotel’s concierge service than their accounting firm, it gives both you and your client bragging rights.
You get the idea. The key to all of this is to have your improved services in a step-by-step system that your designated Client Relations person can run through just like your accountants run through the steps of collating data for your accounting outsourcing team.
This of course is where outsourcing can help you. It gives you both time and money to put a client impression system into place. A system designed to wow your clients can be just as important as any other workflow you have in your office.