In my last article, I touched on technology in the accounting industry and the common impulse to implement shiny new technology without solid business strategies behind it.
As a follow on from this, I want to take a look at technology from another angle, and how it can help boost client engagement in your firm, thus leading to increased opportunities and sales.
Two things I’m going to talk about here are what I believe to be effective client engagement tools.
- Firstly, it is a standard set of ‘needs analysis’ questions to ask clients and prospects (and I’ll go into this more further on).
- Secondly, it is a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system, that can capture the opportunities so we can follow-up our clients on a timeline they have specified and then ultimately project manage the execution.
What’s even better is a software suite where these two tools actually talk to each other. This is what we use in our consulting business and it’s the MYP WITY software (ironically stands for ‘What’s Important to You’) and the MYP CRM program, ArmPro.
Over the years, I’ve used a number of needs analysis tools and CRM’s but as mentioned, there is strength in the automation of the flow of data between them. Also, the MYP WITY is the only needs analysis tool I know that actually asks clients what’s important as opposed to what do you need and “how you are doing at that?” It also involves questions that are both personal and business related, which is powerful in itself, as any good advisor knows these areas can be strongly linked.
Following is an infographic, we’ve created to show this process from the different perspectives.
If you don’t have these systems right now or even if you have a different set, it’s ok as the principles are the same. You can even start small, by using Excel to capture the follow-up on two or three clients and go from there.
A little disclaimer. The introduction of these tools requires behavioural change, particularly in a typical professional services business. Work through the blocks. In my experience, the most common blocks I see come up for newbies during implementation of the WITY are – “my clients won’t answer a survey, they are too busy” or “I (the adviser) don’t like the questions” and on and on it goes. Other reasons we may experience difficulty with the entire process is:
- The software we use daily, is our operational software such as MYOB AE, XPM, Handisoft and APS. These manage job delivery and NOT client engagement. There is a vast difference.
- We are historically not good at managing our client wants and expectations therefore, have never used systems that make us more efficient at it.
Finding out and understanding what our clients want at all levels, is at the core of effective client engagement. How do we find out what our clients want, unless we straight out ask them? Also, if we can ask them in a systemised and driven way that collects and prioritises their responses as well as establishes their gaps, then this is more powerful.
Now I understand the pain of this process. It has taken me a bit of discipline to habitually utilise the CRM functions, particularly the follow-up. However, doing it at 25% is better than not doing it at all and of course doing it at 50% is better again. You see my point. Small steps and persistence really is the key with this.
Finding out and understanding what our clients want at all levels, is at the core of effective client engagement. How do we find out what our clients want, unless we straight out ask them? Also, if we can ask them in a systemised and driven way that collects and prioritises their responses as well as establishes their gaps, then this is more powerful. Looking at the gaps, you can then see the opportunities for offering multiple advice categories.
Which leads me to my next topic – stay tuned, as I will be discussing building product off what’s important to your client. Now that you know what is important to your client!