As accounting professionals, we spend a lot of time (beginning the day after tax season ends) trying to create more efficiencies in our own practices. We look at better workflows, standardized templates, and automation of every sort to try to help us get more work done. Recent (and what seems like omnipresent) staffing shortages have made the need to do more with less feel all the more urgent.
But we are missing the point. It’s not about delivering the same services faster – especially if we are still billing by the hour. Many of our challenges can be traced back to the kind of work we do and the perceived value of what we are delivering to our clients. What if we could do more high value work for fewer clients?
We have to change our focus from our own needs to those of our clients if we want to move ourselves out of the low value, commodity-based, overworked lifestyle that has become our trap. We need to be seen as partners in our client’s business success, not historians who (very accurately and in line with the latest standards) keep track of past failures.
So how do we reset the expectation of value for current and prospective clients?
We start using a process called the Cycle of Customer Interaction*, where we examine our accounting practice not only from the eyes of our team but from the eyes of a client or prospective client who interacts with our firm.
This approach walks you through your process from the first contact with a prospective client (whether that is by mail, email, phone call or a visit to your website) and goes through each stage of their interaction with you. You bring together everyone in your firm who interacts with a current or potential client and capture the details of that step. You then look for issues that arise there and seek to identify measures that you can use to rectify them.
For example, if the initial contact for most prospective clients is a phone call, what does that experience feel like for them?
Do they have to go through a phone tree to get to a live person or is there a cheery voice on the other end of the line?
What is your process for screening that client while you are on the phone?
What aspect of this initial contact can we measure?
How long does it take us to return a voice message that is left for example? Can we improve upon that time?
Then walk through the next step and each interaction after that looks for opportunities to improve the customer experience. Your goal is to identify your most important and easiest to correct items first. (Seek out quick wins rather than complex and disruptive changes.)
And while you are considering every step of your process, think about the billing and payment piece. Many positive experiences are ruined by the process of accepting payments for the goods or services we provide. Be sure to look for solutions like Veem that make payment automation easy and cost-effective for parties on both sides of any transaction. By illustrating your own technical prowess with a global solution like Veem, you inspire your clients to consider new ways of applying technology in their own businesses.
Whatever you do, keep your clients at the center of your practice.
The choice is yours
Do you want to automate processes that don’t help you create the kind of practice you really want to create? Or would you rather re-consider the processes that impact your customer relationship and ultimately allow you to increase the value of the services you deliver?
Let’s focus on enhancing the value of the work we do for fewer clients, so we can make a bigger impact, and finally free ourselves from the tyranny of overwork. You can start by learning more about Veem payment solutions and how they can improve the payment experience – for you and your clients.
*Part of the MentorPlus Level 5 Advisory training licensed to www.TheImpactfulAdvisor.com
About the Author:
Geni Whitehouse, CPA is a part-time consulting member of a CPA firm serving wineries and a co-founder of a bookkeeping business. She is a speaker and author and is always in search of solutions that free accountants (both inside and outside companies) to add more value.
A Veem user herself, Geni has seen the challenge of selling products and services across borders and really appreciates the ability to manage it easily in Veem.