Client Relationship Management – What it Means to Your Firm

Should you consider switching from using a list of the firm’s clients on an Excel spreadsheet to a client relationship management (CRM) system? Have Post-it-Notes and an Excel spreadsheet really worked? Perhaps you are a small to medium-sized CPA firm and don’t feel the need to adopt a system that logically organizes a way to view all your company’s clients and prospects and all the employee’s interactions with them.    Let’s look at how CRM can improve efficiency in your office, help retain and grow your client base. CRM software can pinpoint where to expand services for your current client base, improve customer service, and form relationships with clients.

An effective client relationship management system improves efficiency allowing the user to access all information for clients, prospective clients, and vendors from a single place.  In addition to seeing contact information, staff can easily record and see all contact notes. Ideally, a CRM system should integrate with your other software applications. Information stored in document management, practice management, and Outlook should be accessible to your CRM software.  Work is so much easier if you can view tax files, correspondence, emails, invoices, historical information, etc. for a contact/lead with a single click.  Labels, envelopes, custom letters, and email blasts can be created from one location. Avoid opening multiple Excel spreadsheets and reduce redundant data entry!

Centralize Key Client Information

In addition to efficiency, having the data sources in one central place makes it easier to gain insightful information from customer/prospect data.  For example, should the audit department promote additional services for a tax client who took 11 months to pay? Identifying a client’s referral source can lead to cross-selling opportunities.  If you have attorney clients that are estate and probate specialists, have you communicated to them how you can ensure that trusts are funded?  Your collections’ staff will be fully informed when talking to the customer, with all transaction and contact history available.  Such information allows you to efficiently send customized collection letters as shown in the example.

Manage client collections more effectively with CRM tools.

Manage Client Collections More Effectively with CRM Tools

Enforce accounts receivable credit and work in process limits preventing staff from wasting company resources by working on accounts that have exceeded established limits.  These are just a few examples of the benefits of having all your information in a centralized location.

CRM helps deliver better customer support.  Recording client preferences, personal data, past interactions and invoicing history in one location ensures staff that they have access to the same information, allowing anyone to help a client at any time.  You also alert staff of difficult or special situations. This will have a positive impact on client retention and referrals.  Remember it costs a CPA firm more to get a new client than to keep an old one!

Keep in Touch with Clients on a Regular Basis

CPA firms have a tendency to overlook the importance of client relationships.  If a month passes without reaching out to current clients you are not doing a good job of client retention.  CRM makes it easy and fast to email blast general information to all your clients.  However, the information stored in a CRM system will allow you to send targeted marketing communications that specifically address client needs.  In addition to sending a newsletter with general information, send a more focused newsletter with in-depth information to a specific group; i.e. notify all medical practices/doctors of IRS changes in determining when to capitalize or expense supplies, instruments, equipment and repairs.

More About Client Relationship Management  

Consider an e-mail blast about upcoming tax and investment planning seminars to clients showing increased business profitability.  Targeted client communications demonstrates your investment in your clients success and improves client retention.  Regular communication ensures that new clients are more than just a replacement for lost clients.

Target market your services to specific groups, i.e. chamber of commerce contacts, etc. ensures that your firm continues to grow. You can quickly develop a specialty by marketing to a specific business or profession, i.e. doctors, etc.

It makes sense in an increasingly competitive environment to implement a CRM that is easy to learn and to use.  Test a demo of ImagineTime software to get a feel for how CRM works and whether it fits your needs.  Also, be sure your application is mobile-device friendly to gain access to key client information while out of the office.

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