As an accountant, you’re used to working with accounting software on a daily basis. But accounting software focuses on the numbers — and your job is about so much more than that. To improve your connections with clients, you may want to consider implementing customer relationship management (CRM) software.
In a nutshell, a CRM uses technology to augment traditional customer service. You can store and access client data in one centralized location, which improves the way you interact with your clients. Better client interactions and communication ultimately lead to stronger relationships and improved loyalty.
Of course, not all CRM programs are created specifically for accountants. To help you navigate the process of selecting a CRM for your firm, check out these key features that any accounting CRM should have.
1. Integration with accounting software
This is a big one. As an accountant, you understand the value of maintaining a clear view of your client’s transaction history. Having all of this data on hand allows you to provide consistent, professional accounting services. The logical step is to choose CRM software that integrates with your existing accounting software, such as QuickBooks. This allows you to enter new client or transaction information in either program and have it automatically sync to the other.
With everything from transaction history to past interactions compiled in one place, you’ll have a single system that covers every aspect of your relationship with each client. No more trying to backtrack and double-check figures or dates, which is time-consuming and tedious. Taking advantage of this integration makes your entire workflow more efficient.
2. Streamlined client onboarding
Whenever your accounting firm brings on a new client, they should go through an onboarding process. This ensures your client is aware of the tasks and timelines they are responsible for while you’re providing accounting services. Everyone is on the same page, saving you time and your client money.
Look for a CRM platform that allows you to set up and organize your client onboarding strategy. Features such as document storage, email templates, and scheduled reminders help to ensure that every new client receives the same information on the same timeline. The more you can automate the process, the better the experience will be for you and your clients.
3. Improved client management
When you set up a CRM system, it goes without saying that it will store all of your client information. However, it’s important to make sure that everyone on your team is able to access and update this information easily. Is the CRM cloud-based and mobile-friendly, allowing for access anywhere? Is your team comfortable with the user interface? By choosing a program that your team is comfortable with, you’ll reduce data entry and communication errors that would cost you valuable clients.
As time passes, one of the biggest benefits of better client management is gaining more clients organically. Managing client information in a CRM helps you improve relationships through more personalized service. As a result, your satisfied clients are willing to provide you with free marketing through word-of-mouth and referrals. This also increases the ROI of investing in a CRM system.
4. Easier client communications
In general, accountants have a bevy of ways to communicate securely with clients, such as email and video chat. But do you have a way to keep track of all of these emails and messages over time? If not, implementing CRM software gives you this valuable tool for customer service.
By maintaining a detailed history of communications in your CRM, you can refer back to this information at any time. Whoever speaks with the client next time will also be able to use this history. This way, your team can seamlessly take care of clients without having to backtrack for information. Your clients will appreciate this attention to detail, which will put them at ease. As a result, your clients will end each exchange with your accounting firm satisfied.
5. Client self-sufficiency
Are you looking for ways to get more hours out of your workday as an accountant? Look for CRM software that includes tools for building self-sufficiency among your clients. A great example of this is a CRM that offers built-in self-serve portals, which give your clients greater access to their dealings with your firm.
With self-serve portals, your clients can view their transaction history and their invoices, which results in fewer calls and emails to you. Some CRMs also enable clients to make payments directly through these portals, which reduces the administrative burden on your team.
6. Brand-building tools
Whether you’re a freelancer or you work at a larger firm, your branding matters. As an accountant, your personal and professional brand follows you throughout your career. Think of it as a walking calling card for your accounting services.
When searching for a CRM, consider whether it has tools to help you build your accounting brand. One way to do so is by sharing resources with your clients. Let’s say you have a digital article about the latest tax code that you want to pass along. If your CRM makes it easy to share content with clients (for example, through email campaigns), you can position yourself as a thought leader. This helps to increase client confidence in your abilities and services.
7. Customization of automated workflows
As an accountant, you handle a huge number of repetitive entries and tasks on a daily basis. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if certain tasks could be automatically completed? This is the concept behind using a customizable CRM to build automated workflows. You can modify and update the workflows as desired to meet the changing needs of your accounting firm. Other processes such as document storage and equations can also be implemented using customization.
You may spend your days crunching numbers, but your focus is ultimately on customer service. Being able to provide your clients with the best services to meet their financial needs is essential. Using a CRM for accountants can help you automate processes, saving your firm time and money that can be better spent elsewhere. CRM software also gives you the tools required to better maintain your client relationships. Instead of getting sidetracked by missing data, you’ll always have a clear picture of every client.
As you consider whether to invest in a CRM for your accounting firm, take a moment to consider the cost of inefficient, ineffective customer service. Chances are, the benefits of a great CRM platform will outweigh the investment.